Residue; plural noun: residues a small amount of something that remains after the main part has gone or been taken or used.

Gillian Warden puts her love of paint at the centre of her practice. Over the past few years she has been exploring a ‘formless’ approach to painting. Textures are layered and scraped, folded and poured, and colours emerge from the painting process. The works that she creates may be years in the making. They become a story of surface, transformed and in flux, exuding an energy that continues to change them long after her own work with them is finished. Qualities and forces of the natural world abound in Warden’s work, but there is no literality here. These are works that invite you to immerse in feeling states. States that are shifting, emergent, hidden and hinted. States that wildly, wonderfully, offer you everything. The quality of engagement that the paintings inspire is visceral and transformative. These are worlds we can enter into and be changed by.

Jacob Hoerner Galleries
Second Space

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Fitzroy Melbourne Australia 3065
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Gillian Warden’s recent paintings teeter on the edge of transformation, poised and readying for the unknown. Much like a chrysalis unseen within the delicate filigree of its cocoon, they seek to hold an interim space, a deep breath, a lacuna, a potent anticipation.

Evoking elements from the natural world, they are multilayered, being as much about the medium of paint and the process of painting as with an experience of nature. They explore through abstracted shapes, textures and the interplay of light and dark, developing dimensions that open multiple meanings.

ləˈkjuːnə – Dr Caroline Thew MBBS FRACP PhD MVA MFA

Gillian Warden’s latest paintings in Lacuna are a testament to her commitment to the process of painting. Daily, she embarks on a journey in her studio as if from scratch. No mark is sacred. Paint stripper, orbital sander and encroaching opaque paint are used to prune, truncate and shape her previous work. “These paintings are the result of struggle,” she says.

But what is revealed by this “beautiful battle” are a series of organic, delicately filigreed shapes and patterns in luminescent colours. Branching forms float, unfurl and delicately wave. Marine gardens and igneous landscapes come to mind.

All shapes allude to the wonder of the natural world. The paintings arrive somewhere between heaven and earth. Interstellar nebulae juxtapose the microscopic. Iridescent wings flutter and settle. Their blood circulations remain anchored to their rocky supports, prevented from final rupture by a superimposed cocoon of downy, opaque over-painting.

Her dedication to the medium of paint, her excitement at revelations and new combinations, is underpinned by a series of exploratory devices. She begins by mixing colours on a large, flat palette from which she creates a monoprint directly on to the board or canvas. Sometimes paper is used to transfer these globular, textured shapes. Later prints are lighter and more delicate; the texture becomes a branching, lacy network.

Nothing is considered immiscible in this alchemist’s cauldron. Colours are combined and layered with translucent overprints of inks or paints, both water soluble and oil based, Further brush marks are added or overlaid to reveal or conceal these illusions. The magic is in what we are enabled to see. The multiple experiments of this venerable pursuit are documented in a series of jewel-like small works on board, finely finished and displayed en masse.

These paintings began life during Gillian’s Master of Fine Art at RMIT, entitled Facing Defacing and completed in 2012. The works were part of her process of leaving figuration behind in order to explore a more formless approach to painting.

This interim space has been productive and rewarding. Who knows what will happen as the emergent shapes and techniques branch away from their supports. The developments will continue to be worth watching.


Having completed a Masters of Fine Art at RMIT University in 2012 Gillian Warden has developed a sophisticated and nuanced understanding of her own art. Through this continued study, consistent exhibiting of her creative work, as well as through her on-going professional practice as a graphic designer, Warden has achieved a sense of resolution in her painting as well as, in many ways, liberated her own practice for further experimentation in the years to come.