Kedela wer kalyakoorl ngalak Wadjak boodjak yaak.

Today and always, we stand on the traditional land of the Whadjuk Noongar people.

Michele Theunissen. Photo by Duncan Wright.

Michele Theunissen

State Collection
Gallery 01
Until 30 January

Inspired by Eastern traditions, this artist searches for "nothingness" in her paintings; their many layers and parts combining seamlessly in a greater whole.

Michele Theunissen’s rhythmically patterned and open-ended paintings take inspiration from Mahayana Buddhism, to make delicately visible the flicker between substance and the insubstantial.

Witness this in two paintings hanging in this exhibition. Gathered creates a pictorial choreography where paint marks wriggle in loose wave-like bands seeming to obey the pull of a horizontal tide over a quietly glowing ground. The mica in the underpaint imbues the surface with an occasional flash and shimmer, while also adding an unplaceable quality of mystery: the work is a calmly energetic emanation of a kind, not merely a painting.

The Edge resides at the opposite end of the emotional spectrum. It came into being over four years, a period that saw the death of her brother. While not consciously fashioned as a response, she now sees it as having the function of a working-through.

The Edge just came out of me, an explosive feeling, it became about a struggle with grief and loss.” — Michele Theunissen

The work’s fiery form is a brewing up of pain that doesn’t resolve; it holds its feeling state at a constant tension, maintaining a meditative balance between an awareness of the tragedy of life and the difficult consolations of our being present to them.