I was lucky enough to be introduced to the work of Melbourne artist, Melissa Grisancich, via a chance meeting through my usual gallery bumblings a couple of years ago. Relatively quiet and easy going, the young artist only mentioned her craft in a brief conversation that led me to have more of a wander and browse online. A few spelling mistakes later, I finally stumbled upon the fantastically vibrant works of the passionate painter also known as Mel Grisa. Displaying a floral eye for bright colours and distinct brush control, I was disappointed in my radar for not circling in on such talent previously. Juggling the visual influences of Frida Khalo, Raja Ravi Varma and Margaret Kilgallen, Grisancich’s incarnations don’t just come from the artists who preceded them, but by an original and personal construct of their own. Having presented her work in a number of hotly contested group and solo shows over the last decade, Polychromatic Heirlooms showcases over 20 fantastic new works from the artist, in the corner of Melbourne’s Outre Gallery.
For me, art isn’t just about how well an artist can put together a piece, it’s also about maintaining a presence in the space their displayed in. It may come from analyzing so much graffiti and street art over the years, but if the work doesn’t click as a whole (in the space they’re presented in), it feels like another run of the mill display. Being surrounded by dozens of other well established artist, within Outre, may be a bit confronting for artists wanting to display their work, but Grisancich simply commands her own with this kaleidoscopic display of light and dark themes, wrapped in an attractive number of formats. Ranging from collected, salvaged and self-made canvas’, Polychromatic Heirlooms showcases the artists elastic diversity towards her craft, from the small and curved to the the traditionally large and flat. The overall display holds a distinct theme of blending the old with the new, as make-shift coffins are presented with new life alongside durable cacti. On the contrary, weathered colours are primarily used to distinguish space among all the movement found within the images, giving viewers eyes a much needed rest from the precise octagonal palette and vibrancy. But since discovering her body of work, it’s Grisancich’s use of black that has always drawn me in for a closer look. Spread between shade, shadows and outlines, it’s a colour that is used for a variety of reasons, but ideally for juxtaposition. At first glance, this is an array of nature and our simplistic connection to it, but I think Polychromatic Heirlooms focuses on more in it’s viewers. We can appreciate this collection for it’s warm approach, but with a keen eye, a quiet darkness unfolds. Animals fight for attention, while the humans surrounding them simply carry on about their business, both fading away like the heirlooms they’re painted on. Through beauty and gloom, Grisancich has compiled a solid show with plenty to look at, making Polychromatic Heirlooms, a show to be enjoyed from a number of different angles, both technically and theoretically.
Polychromatic Heirlooms unfortunately closed on April 12, but if you would like to see more work from Melissa Grisancich or would like to enquire about any of the art from this show, hit the links below.