“Every atom you possess has almost certainly passed through several stars and been part of millions of organisms on its way to becoming you” (or a Gary McMillan painting...)
-Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything.

Gary McMillan is a patient man. His paintings coalesce atom by atom, their volatile fabric feels perpetually in motion. His energised molecules, flitter in a hyper-aroused state, fizzing between solidity and dispersion. It is as if they're casting around for a mate in the hope of forming a happy compound. And whilst all this ceaseless activity is underway, McMillan deftly loads the brush with another particle of paint – anticipating painterly fusion.

This visual fluctuation approximates the way that we see but pretend that we don’t. Our minds and senses constantly correcting, making allowances for the inherent instability of our visual world. In this sense Gary McMillan’s paintings lend yet another version of the truth to the fiction of stable vision.

At this point in “post-truth” history these paintings seem to quietly accept the precariousness, the unreliability of even the most careful depictions, by accepting that nothing is what it seems... 20/20 vision is now meaningless. The virus has certainly changed our perceptions of what “outside” means. For those of a more nervous disposition, being outside may’ve always carried more inherent sense of risk – the notion of hunkering down inside, out of the weather, away from the madding crowds, safe and warm… or cool as the season dictates, was the best immunity.

However, since “19”, outside has been simultaneously felt synonymous with fresh air, sunlight – “is there a way to get that inside the body somehow”, liberty in general, but also, ironically carrying with it a greater risk of transmission, if you were to stray too close to an infected carrier that is. This is truly the stuff of “Sci-Fi”, or worse “horror”, or heaven help us both.

This noirish territory has always pulsed away in the background of McMillan’s paintings – from the skewed rear window vistas of a car in flight, to the “triffid-like” treatment of the streetlights… or are they simply deep-state surveillance devices. I’m not suggesting that McMillan is Mel Gibson in Conspiracy Theory, but he may well, like me, be increasingly nostalgic for the time when a good conspiracy was largely part of Hollywood fiction rather than front page news on Fox

For those isolating indoors, the outside became more than simply losing the pleasures of “al fresco”. Anxiety about the impact of the virus, simple FoMO, or as David Bowie conveyed in his apprehensive and unorthodox, (when were they ever not?) 1995 album, Outside...

It happens outside
The music is outside
It’s happening outside
The music is outside
It’s happening
Not tomorrow
Not tomorrow

Of course, Bowie always liked a glorious fiction. He himself came from Mars, possibly brought the virus on his red space boots. Wherever it came from, Wuhan market or Lab, or indeed the Red Planet courtesy of Ziggy Stardust, it seems that we’re going to spend much of our future debating whether the most protected place to be was in or outdoors, yesterday or tomorrow...

Andrew Jensen, July 2022


  • Thu 21 Jul


  • 5:30 pm — 7:30 pm


  • 10 Putiki Street
  • Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland, 1021