Rohan Hartley Mills

Having commenced his studies at the Victorian College of Arts in Melbourne in 2007, Australian born Rohan Hartley Mills subsequently moved to New Zealand and completed a Bachelor of Visual Art and Design (Painting) at Unitec in Auckland in 2010. He also gained a Postgraduate Diploma in Painting from AUT University before finishing his Master of Art and Design with First Class Honours at AUT University in 2013. Mills has participated in group exhibitions since 2006, with notable recent shows being The Smoothing of Things (2015) and Drawing Rehearsals (2016), both at Two Rooms. He has also staged several solo projects in Auckland, including the execution of a wall project at Te Tuhi in 2014. In 2015 and 2016 Mills was a finalist in the Waikato National Contemporary Art Awards, and he was a finalist in the 25th annual Wallace Art Awards 2016. Mills’ work is held in several collections throughout New Zealand and Australia.


Mills’ painting practice is an ongoing exploration into the possibilities of contemporary abstract painting, which encompasses both two- and three-dimensional forms. Placing an unequivocal premium on process and materiality, Mills’ works are uniquely representative of a specific moment, a specific action, and a specific intention on the part of the artist. His paintings are a celebration of boldness, confidence, and resolution. They are not the result of predetermined compositional structures, line weights or colour selections, rather they operate in the same open ended manner as working drawings. However, Mills remains cognizant of having to critically reflect, assess, and evaluate the emerging piece in order for it to succeed, which he carries out “at a later date when the particulars of the working session are forgotten.” In this way he celebrates “the continual flow of ideas” and preserves “the action of automatism.” Nevertheless, Mills’ painting modality still hinges on developing relationships between the drawn line and colour. It is these two elements that are largely responsible for negotiating the space of the canvas and conjuring sensations, textures, images and memories for both artist and viewer.


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