Aussie artist channels lockdown blues into work and breaks creative barriers


A guest taking in the message of Ekeblad’s works during the launch of the exhibition.

EVERY dark cloud has a silver lining. For Penang-based Australian artist Madeleine Ekeblad, the lockdown has helped her evolve her art.

“I tried things I wouldn’t have done as an artist, including experimenting with colours I wouldn’t have imagined using just a year ago, ” she shared.

Though she did landscapes and seascapes back in the 1990s, musical motifs became her signature from the 2000s. And these were almost exclusively done in shades of red and black.

However, her latest series incorporates various hues of blue, a colour which she had long avoided as she associated it with danger.

“My husband used to go to sea in the merchant navy and he would send me photos of storms and rough seas.

“So blue did not appeal to me while red and black are energetic.

“You walk into any room and your eyes will be drawn to these colours, ” explained Ekeblad, more popularly known as just ‘Maddi’.

She was able to ride out the first MCO in March 2020 but the second one in January this year proved more emotionally challenging.

“Artists need an audience so the lockdown left me feeling a little lost because I had no audience.

“It brought a lot of frustration into my work and that’s how blue came in, ” Ekeblad said of her latest pieces.

A total of 26 are currently on display in her solo exhibition titled ‘I Paint Music’.

It opened last week at G Art Gallery in G Hotel Gurney. Another signature of her paintings is the incorporation of old music manuscripts.

Drizzled with lyrical strokes of flowing paint, the paintings reflect the jovial spirit of a painter that lives life with pizzazz.

“I’ve always loved music. I hear it everywhere. When I paint outdoors at a botanic garden, a slight breeze coming through would turn bamboo into drums and leaves into flutes in my head.

“In 1999, a mentor told me to paint my passion. It took a while to figure out my direction but when I found some old music manuscripts at a second-hand bookshop, it all clicked into place.

“I started putting the music manuscripts into my work and the concept of painting music came to life, ” said Ekeblad, who typically has some jazz or classical music and a glass of bubbly for company when she paints.

Besides painting, Ekeblad is also an author, art philosopher, tutor, art judge, curator and teacher.

She has had over 10 exhibitions internationally. The current one is her third solo in Malaysia and second one at the hotel.

The ongoing exhibition ends on May 31 and admission is free.

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