The force of abstraction
(Extract from the catalogue, Colour Sensation, The Works of Melinda Harper by Sue Cramer, Curator at Heide Museum of Modern Art)
As a teenager, Harper felt empowered by her encounter with a single Hans Hofmann painting, resolving soon after to become an artist. Since that time, her work has engaged in an ongoing dialogue with visual experience.
Spurred in her formative years by the example of early 20th-century modernism, its idealism and experimental spirit, and by the role women have played in modernist art, Harper’s practice also should be situated in the context of abstract painting’s more recent re-entry into the world of contemporary art, as a presence to be contended with.
There are many contemporary artists Harper admires, especially those for whom colour is a subject of their art-Polly Apfelbaum, Etel Adnan, Mary Heilmann, Bryan Spier and Stanley Whitney are some she has mentioned-and she still has strong affiliations with her fellow artists from Store 5 days. Today, Harper continues to evolve striking new variations on her characteristic themes, finding fresh lines of advancement, including some stimulated by looking again at much earlier series, with a view to picking up trains of thought and taking them forward in new ways. The cross-fertilisation of ideas between the different disciplines in which she works continues to lead to new and sometimes unexpected avenues of practice. Above all Harper continues to sustain her commitment to colour and geometry, harnessing their combined force to make art of extraordinary beauty.