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34 ARTIST INTERVIEW Jess Merlo

Jess Merlo

O

rganic forms play the part of the muse for emerging contemporary painter and sculptor Jess Merlo, who creates abstract works taking inspiration from natural configurations such as the rock formations found at Bridgewater Bay Beach. Her distinctive forms flow freely between sculpture and paint as she translates initial sketches into finished artworks which exude a sense of ease and calm tranquillity. Her paintings in acrylic on board are also informed by domestic spaces, which help to create the perfectly balanced plays of colour in muted, earthy tones. Since graduating Monash University’s Fine Arts programme Merlo has continued to establish herself in the art world, building an impressive body of work. She is a co-founder of the artists-run collective The Lot, with whom she also exhibits.

How long have you been creating work as an artist, and how has your style changed and developed over this time? I had always been playing around, sketching and painting in my spare time when I was a teenager where I slowly developed technical skills. But it was only until my final year at high school that I decided to take it a bit more seriously and study art at University. Starting art school, I believed I wanted to focus on drawing. However, I found myself exploring many different materials and techniques, eventually leaving as a sculptor and abstract painter. Since only just recently graduating Bachelor of Fine Arts at Monash University in Melbourne, I have noticed that my artistic style and aesthetic has been cemented as I continue to produce paintings and sculptures.

Can you tell us about your process in the studio, from inception to final piece? Once I find some inspiration I start drawing shapes in my sketchbook and then keep abstracting and transforming the shape until I’m satisfied. Then I decide whether it’s fit for a painting or sculpture. If I see it as a sculpture, I carve variations of the shape into soap to visualise it in a three-dimensional context. Otherwise I paint on scrap paper, combining my compilation of inspiration onto the page. You create both paintings and sculptural works, how do you balance the two mediums in your practice? Having collected an assortment of shapes, colours and compositions, I make the distinction whether it will feature on a painting or as a sculpture by judging the complexity of the form.

Inside Artists - Issue 14  

Art is a conduit to the human soul. Through paint and ink, metal and wood, pencil and clay we catch a glimpse at the inner feelings of the...

Inside Artists - Issue 14  

Art is a conduit to the human soul. Through paint and ink, metal and wood, pencil and clay we catch a glimpse at the inner feelings of the...

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