The world Stormie Mills as constructed through his artwork is one we have come to recognize from the outset. It's dark and often confronting, subtly evoking discussion and provoking thought amongst even those who are unversed in his style. Based on the notion of the societal villain, Dark Lights continues Stormie Mills' exploration into the human condition, and expands our voyeuristic journey through his works. “They're like angels with dirty faces” Mills says of the characters in his paintings.“That's essentially what the work's about: very dark characters but they all have this one quality that still keeps them human.”
Having lived in London and travelled the world, Mills' choice to permanently reside in Perth again was a deliberate one: “the isolation, I think, breeds a different level of creativity.” Upon closer scrutiny, one can see how this decision has positively affected his work. From the characters to the composition, Dark Lights is littered not only with traces of Stormie Mills himself, but also his creative environment. “Even if you look at the shadows underneath [the characters],' he says, gesturing to the nearby piece Wings Too Worn To Be Fly, “the shadows are very tight and they're very direct, because the sunlight [in Perth] is really strong and you don't cast a big shadow.” Furthermore, the ambiguous grey setting behind the characters is no empty space; it's a “minimalist, notional, and emotional” representation of a cityscape much like his own.
The opening of the exhibition, presented by Greenhill Galleries, was a strong start to a strong show. Flocks of guests descended upon the space, dressed in black, as though synchronized with the mood of the collection. As the little dot stickers began to infiltrate the paintings, the message Mills had so carefully crafted began to infiltrate the conversation. Dark Lights is indeed an important show within both Mills' career and Perth's history, challenging the individual to learn from the study conducted by the artist and the lesson woven through the works.
Greenhill Galleries until Thursday 26 July.