At Australian Galleries Lewis Miller has a show called Recent Paintings, which are paintings he has done recently. We’re not sure if any artist has ever had a show called Old Paintings or Aging Works on Paper, but if they did, we’d get down there.
Although we like to maintain some form of decorum when we go into Australian Galleries, we went with a companion who admitted to us that he had not had sex in a number of years. Miller’s show was the closest thing he had got to living the art life in quite awhile. Now, one may construct all sorts of high falutin’ reasons why a man would want to paint – or view – Miller’s work, but one must also acknowledge at the beginning of any review that a prurient interest in the work is rewarded by close inspection of the artist’s eye for anatomy. Indeed, the artist seems to embrace it.
Looking at Miller’s show, we think that he has what we would consider to be the ultimate artist’s lifestyle – a studio bound painter with a love of naked women, pot plants, self portraits, lamb shanks, oysters (for keeping up strength and virility we assume) and plates of quinces. He also manages to find time to paint pictures of his studio floor, extension cords and a glue pot on a stove. Either Miller should really try and get out some more, or perhaps he should just stay right where he is – who needs television when you’ve got beautiful naked women lying around in your studio, casually draped over chairs or nonchalantly holding a mirror?
The great thing about visiting the Australian Galleries outpost in Roylston Street Paddington is how timeless it feels. The low ceilings, the polished wood floors, the smell of oil paint in the air; it’s really quite thrilling. Miller’s exhibition is perfectly in sync with the gallery space – his use of oil paints, gesso and charcoal on linen are just classic and although it might seem like we’re being sarcastic, we thought, thank god someone is still painting like this.
We can’t honestly say that the inclusion of paintings of lamb shanks and another of four lamb chops had us salivating, which is not a sensation one normally feels at a painting show. We had a fantasy that Miller might invite around to his studio for a few glasses of red and some chops, but knew that such an invitation would never come. We left feeling deflated. Time for a few raw eggs and a plate of oysters.