Artists

Past Exhibition

 

Ludmilla Meilerts (1908 – 1997)

 

Melbourne Paintings
1950's - 1980's


6 – 22 April 2017

 

Click here to view Biography

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Metropolis Gallery in association with the art estate of Ludmilla Meilerts is excited to make available selected paintings of Melbourne between the 1950s and 1980s.

The life and artistic journey of Ludmilla Meilerts (1908 – 1997) is reflected in the originality and strength of her paintings. Her intense personal struggle after fleeing post-war Europe to becoming a notable Australian artist is a larger than life story of resilience and determination.

After arriving in Australia in 1948, Meilerts turned her focus to the heart of mid-century Melbourne. She made it's back streets and waterways an important part of her work and the colour and vitality of her urban paintings brought a European art sensibility that set her apart from other Australian artists, instilling in her paintings a unique and personal expression of her new homeland. The National Gallery of Victoria soon purchased one of her paintings and within two years had acquired another, with many public galleries following suit.

Meilerts was invited to show three works at the 1948 Annual Exhibition of the Society of Artists in Sydney, introducing her work on the same level as many major Australian artists including Russell Drysdale, Lloyd Rees, William Dobell, Margaret Preston, Grace Cossington Smith, Sali Herman, Elaine Haxton, George Bell, Margaret Olley and Thea Proctor.

Her mastery of colour and the glowing sensation of light resulted in the creation of many wonderful paintings, generally completed in a single sitting and without any reworking of the immediate sensation. I would watch her lightly sketch her outlines with thinned out crimson lake, and quickly block in the areas of colour. The sound of her brushes scratching on the board and the smell of linseed oil and turps were a heady combination… (Guna Green, artist)

Meilerts’ first Australian solo exhibition was at Georges Gallery, Melbourne in April 1949, with the Age art critic noting that Her style is distinctive; the colour harmonies are sensitively rendered. Furthermore the artist has shown that a fresh vision may find material in the local scene capable of being rendered to a higher chromatic range than was hitherto suspected. Since then, art writers have sought to categorize the influences on Meilerts’ work, suggesting French Impressionism, Pointillism, Post-Impressionism, Fauvism and Neo-Impressionism.

In the inaugural 1950 Dunlop Art Prize (at the time the richest national award in Australia) Meilerts shared fifth prize with Fred Williams. First prize Sidney Nolan, second William Frater, Arthur Boyd third and Charles Bush and Len Annois sharing fourth. She was a Dunlop Prize finalist again in 1951, 1952, 1953 and 1954, placing Ludmilla alongside some of the foremost artists of the time.

She participated in important Victorian Artists Society (VAS) group shows in the 1950’s and early 1960’s, won the prestigious Gosford Art Prize in 1971 and the coveted VAS Pirstitz Gold Medal in 1982 which honoured her contribution to the Society and to Australian art.

In her book More Than Just Gumtrees (1993) Juliet Peers discussed Meilerts’ role in the Melbourne Society of Women Painters and Sculptors: One of the most important migrant artists… was Ludmilla Meilerts… her art is saturated with the vibrating colours of the earliest hedonistic period of expressionism, when German artists were building upon the lead of the impressionists and fauves in France; abstracting and intensifying the colours and making the brush strokes expressive participants in the effect of the painting, more than a means of transcription. And… she painted… in an extroverted manner and recorded the Melbourne scene of the 1950s with animation and vivacity.

Ludmilla Meilerts is represented in many Australian private and public collections including the National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of NSW, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Art Gallery of Western Australia and regional Galleries at Castlemaine, La Trobe Valley, Bendigo, and Portland in Victoria and Gosford in New South Wales.