Heidi Melamed Portrait.jpg


Ellipses orbit each other and intersect, creating compositional segments that advance and recede before our eyes. Natural and artificial light spills out from expected boundaries, expanding and contracting the space between viewer and artwork. Colour masquerades as both opaque and translucent, shining and matte, glittering and smooth. Fluorescent and phosphorescent hues vie for our attention as the lighting conditions change. In making a single work, Heidi Melamed is in fact making a work that can exist in multiple states simultaneously, depending on our own perceptual experience. This is painting, with light.

Over recent years, Melamed’s studio practice has evolved from experimental works employing a variety of materials to increasingly refined yet complex objects and installations. Parabolas are embedded in acrylic which has been CNC milled, painted and polished, and in laser-cut plywood relief sculptures Perspex and neon parabolas and curves nest around one another, ringed with a glowing halo. Regardless of media, these works can be thought of as expanded paintings, in which colour and light play the role of brushstroke.

These works transcends age and language boundaries, as light and colour belong to a universal vocabulary of visual, physical and psychological understanding. The artist acknowledges that in our contemporary world, meaning has shifted from the object to the experience. Armed with this consideration and intrigued by the notion that a work can exist in multiple states simultaneously (a phenomenon known as Quantum Superposition), Melamed creates standalone pieces and installations that paint with light. 

Employing elements such as coloured Perspex and glitter alongside paint of varying degrees of translucency and viscosity, Melamed’s works incorporate light into the surface of the painting and disperse it back into its surrounding environment. The artist’s installations, meanwhile, take these elements and add to them with the use of fluorescent and phosphorescent paint, which is manipulated via a change in controlled light conditions to demonstrate the way objects can exist in several states at the same time. These light conditions switch between the ambient conditions of the room, ultra-violet light, and an absence of light. Combined with the artist’s use of day-glow and glow-in-the-dark paint, the result is a changing experience of the same objects.


Of course, even without a change in light conditions, a viewer can experience a work in a multitude of ways and Melamed composes her works to allow for this experience to occur to its fullest. Installation elements are placed in such a way as to change their visual impact depending on the location of the viewer as well as the ambient light conditions in the space. While coloured Perspex is a favoured way of achieving this as it both reflects and casts coloured shadows, Melamed also incorporates wallpaper of repeated patterns, individual paintings hung at unexpected angles, and found objects which add textural variation to these spatial scenarios. 

The parabola is at the core of all this. This shape has been explored by Melamed throughout her recent practice, appearing in geometric form through laser-cut materials such as Perspex and ply and as repeated patterns and stencilled shapes, as well as in organic form through dripped and poured paint. The layering of these two states of the ovoid, using a variety of materials incorporating colour and light, allows for the creation of compositions that can be read in a multitude of ways spatially. Perhaps we are exploring a dark forest or an undersea grotto, gazing at a planetary constellation or meteor shower, or navigating a complex internal psychological space. Self-contained paintings featuring organic parabolic drips in moody blues, rich purples and shimmering gold draw the viewer into a contemplative reverie, while wallpapered designs of geometric parabolic trajectories executed in day-glow green take us into another dimension entirely. 

Melamed’s works strike a delicate balance between the controlled and the unexpected. In laying down the compositional and material boundaries for a piece, the artist arranges a scenario in which the artwork-object is the starting point, colour and light are permitted to interplay via these expanded paintings, and ultimately a unique viewing experience is the result. 


Heidi Melamed is a South African-born, Sydney-based artist with a studio practice focussed on forms of expanded painting using colour and light. Melamed’s work has been curated into numerous group exhibitions including EMANATEat the New England Regional Art Museum, 1919 Salonat Galerie pompom Sydney (both 2019), Pen/Line+Paint at 220 Creative Space, Sydney (2017), and Made/Arrangedat Saint Cloche, Sydney (2016). Melamed participated in The Other Art Fair, Sydney in 2016 and was Artist in Residence at Moriah College, Queens Park the same year. She has been a finalist in the Waverley Art Prize (2018, 2016, 2015), Mosman Art Prize (2015) and Blacktown City Art Prize (2012) and in 2020 will hold her first solo exhibition at Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert, Sydney. Melamed holds a Masters in Fine Art from the National Art School, Sydney (2018) a Masters of Art (majoring in Painting) from the University of New South Wales (2013), Sydney.

Heidi Melamed is represented by Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert, Sydney.