Tonee Messiah has held solo exhibitions in Sydney and Melbourne since 2004 and has been included in group exhibitions in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. She has Bachelor of Visual Arts (Honours) and Master of Fine Arts degrees from UNSW.
Messiah is a sessional painting lecturer at UNSW Art and Design, Sydney and the National Art School, Sydney. She is a recipient of an Australian Postgraduate Award, UNSW (2015), ARP Artist Residency, Darlinghurst (2013), Zelda Stedman Young Artist Scholarship (2005), William Fletcher Trust Artist Grant (2005), NAVA Visual and Craft Artist’s Grant (2004) and Sir William Dobell Arts Foundation Scholarship (2003).
Messiah has been a finalist in the Waverly Art Prize (2019) and the Hazelhurst Works on Paper Art Award (2017 & 2015). Her work is in the collections of ArtBank, Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne as well as corporate and private collections in Australia and New Zealand.
In 2022 Australian clothing label Gorman launched their collaborative collection with Tonee Messiah.
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TO KNOW YOU IS TO MISPLACE YOU
23 FEBRUARY TO 12 MARCH 2022
Dismissal of held knowledge, situating yourself in a perpetual state of wondering and suspicion. Engaging abstract practices that develop intuitive painting in conversation with the body and its corporeal compass, navigating possibility, impression and error. The collection of work To Know You is to Misplace You explores the productivity for intuitive abstraction in states of doubt, scepticism, uncertainty, and accounts for the unimaginable potential variations of outcome. A line in the sand of abstract practice that asks the question “how can you know, what can you know with?” and “is this the knowing you are searching for?”
Deviations from the formalities of repetitious style, composition and colour approach, enables a metaphoric ‘clearing of surfaces’ which allow abstraction to do what it does best- develop modified languages for the unknowable or unexplainable. The pursuit of answers to the posed questions are built from the ground up by rejecting familiar responses from previous knowing. Retaining belief in the value of questioning a resolved and self-assured ‘rightness’ for the curiosities of compelling ‘wrongness’ and intriguing error. This body of work enjoys its detachment from traditions of linear development and substitutes it instead with perpetual collapse and energetic rebuilding. Each painting suspends itself in uncertainty as a productive methodology, embracing the tensions of unknown endpoints and equally resisting familiar navigation devices.
Tonee Messiah 2022
IN THE PRACTICE OF SITTING
27 MAY TO 14 JUNE 2020
By Lee-Ann Joy
Artist Profile issue 51
Tonee Messiah's debut show at Nicholas Thompson Gallery, 'In the Practice of Sitting', explores three recurring themes – posture, place and sensation. Yet in her new work, familiar compositional movements and spatial relationships have been reanalysed by the unexpected confines of her home during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Observation of spaces has always played a key role in Messiah’s work, which she believes comes from her early childhood when her family transitioned back and forth between a small Kibbutz in Israel to coastal Australia, before finally settling in Sydney at the age of eleven.
‘I became observant of the spaces I inhabited and the people around me as a tactic to try and place myself within the social and physical dynamics of space,’ reflects the artist. Interestingly, it wasn’t the specific spaces that shaped Messiah’s subject but the frequent transitions. She became aware of the social nuances and the shifting energies of each environment, giving her a deep understanding of the requirements of assimilation, and her present-day ability to analyse and understand a space without relying on the specifics of language.
Utilising a non-use of language, Messiah relies on the stratagem of intuition to develop her work. Drawing on her knowledge and experience of painting, she consciously filters intuitive inclinations. Over the years she has gathered from Egon Schiele, David Hockney, Marlene Damas and most recently Amy Sillman, to refine her responses to spatial relationships and incorporate a soft focus painting technique, enabling a close link to her intuition. This approach becomes a means not to be over-intentional with the areas and planes of the canvas, preferring to create a nuance of sensations and feelings rather than a narrative discussion.
‘My work doesn’t say specific things, but it asks certain questions and will often avoid having finite resolutions to those questions, reflections on the lived experiences, avoiding the obvious facts of experiences but rather, some nuances of sensations and feelings that language can’t articulate very well,’ Messiah says.
In ‘In the Practice of Sitting’, Messiah uses her home as a testing ground and herself as the subject, exploring the sensation of confinement – where every domestic space has become inter-connected; the boundaries between each room blurred by the mindless entries and exits of each space. She explains, ‘I started to look at what are the shifts in these sensations, and I found a few key areas.’ In All Content No Form (2020), the sensation of working at her desk with the constant flow of information shooting at her seems to create a bug-eyed feeling. Within the painting Relapse (2020), the artist analyses the muscular sensations of posture, the bodily sensation of sitting, positioning, and situating. The repeated motif creates a ‘perpetual sameness’ experienced when you sit for long periods in a confined space, creating a different sense of self and perhaps reinterpretation of the surrounding area. In Synthesised Waterfall (2020), the shower, invites a different type of mindfulness and a distinct sense of distance and breadth is upheld, while daydreaming in the shower.
Tonee Messiah’s ‘In the Practice of Sitting’ grasps the viewer in curious dialogue, and leaves you with the sensation of wonderment within uncertainty.
TONEE MESSIAH COLLABORATING ARTIST FOR GORMAN FEBRUARY 2022 COLLECTION
Gorman has previously worked with Australian artists including Rhys Lee and Miranda Skoczek. In 2019, ‘Gorman: Ten years of collaborating’ was exhibited at Heide Museum of Modern Art featuring work by collaborative artists and Gorman textiles.
TONEE MESSIAH IN NEW ISSUE 51 OF ARTIST PROFILE, FEATURE BY LEE-ANN JOY
Tonee Messiah By Lee-Ann Joy Tonee Messiah’s debut show at Nicholas Thompson Gallery, ‘In the Practice of Sitting’, explores three recurring themes – posture, place and sensation. Yet in her new work, familiar compositional movements and spatial relationships have been reanalysed by the unexpected confines of her home during the COVID-19 lockdown. Observation of spaces…