Minimalist painter and printmaker who was born in Poland and arrived in Australia in 1953. In 2004, a major survey of his works on paper was exhibited at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the National Gallery of Victoria. Mitelman has received several awards throughout his career, including the James Farrell Self Portrait Award in 2007.
Allan Mitelman, painter, printmaker and art teacher, was born in Poland in 1946 and arrived in Australia in 1953. The artist and art historian Elizabeth Cross documented how Mitelman, as a schoolboy, spent his Saturdays helping his art teacher, the Austrian-born sculptor Karl Duldig. After leaving school Mitelman initially studied architecture for a year before shifting his attention to art. He studied at the Prahran College of Advanced Education (1965-68) followed by further printmaking studies at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT). Not long after his student days, Mitelman was included in the significant Australian Prints exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London (1972). Also, the prestigious Museum of Modern Art in New York collected an etching and lithograph by Mitelman in the early 1970s.
Mitelman has presented his work in solo and group exhibitions in Australia and internationally since 1969. Significant group exhibitions in which his work was included are the ‘Ninth International Print Biennale,’ Tokyo (1974), ‘Twelve Australian Lithographers,’ National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (1975), ‘Reference Points,’ Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane (1992), ‘Silent Objects: Non-Objective Art from Melbourne,’ Centre for Contemporary Art, Hamilton, New Zealand (1994). Mitelman’s countless solo exhibitions have been held at several Australian galleries including Crossley Gallery, Melbourne, Ray Hughes Gallery, Brisbane and Macquarie Galleries, Sydney. In 2004 the National Gallery of Victoria held a major survey of Mitelman’s works on paper, curated by Elizabeth Cross, which also toured to the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
Mitelman’s works are abstract in nature, presenting non-figurative images that use minimal compositional elements. His works offer harmonies of hues and textures for visual enjoyment, with no clear message to be consumed by the viewer. The textured surfaces of Mitelman’s paintings arise from an instinctive layering of paint and the manipulation and marking of the medium with his palette knife. His works are primarily untitled. Alan Krell and Suzanne Davis have compared Mitelman’s work to that of the American artist Cy Twombly and the English artist Roger Hilton respectively, noting Mitelman’s interest in children’s art. The rhythmic quality of his brushwork has also prompted an analogy between his work and musical scores.
As well as his own work as a practicing artist, Mitelman has furthered contributed to the arts in his role as a teacher. Mitelman lectured at the National Gallery of Victoria School in 1972 and then turned to teaching at the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne. A number of his former students have painted his portrait for the Archibald Prize, most notably Lewis Miller who won the Archibald Prize for his portrait of the artist in 1998.
Throughout the course of his career Mitelman has received several awards including the Geelong Print Prize (1970), Corio Art Prize (1974) and the Wollongong Art Purchase Prize (1976). He was also the recipient of a fellowship from the Visual Arts and Crafts Board of the Australia Council (1989) and won the Sulman Prize in 2004.
The art of Allan Mitelman is represented in major public collections throughout Australia including the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane; the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne and the Baillieu Library Print Collection, The University of Melbourne, Victoria. His work is also featured in New Zealand and American collections such as Christchurch City Art Gallery, Christchurch; Auckland City Art Gallery, Auckland; and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.