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Australian art

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Night volumes



Hilarie Mais

England, Australia

17 Jan 1952 -


Since the early 1980s, Hillarie Mais has explored the potential of the grid as both composition and content. Her practice reflects the legacy of American minimalism of the late 1960s and 1970s, extending upon its concern with compositional systems, geometric form, and visual and spatial perception.

In 'Night volumes', a sculptural relief is paired with a stretched canvas that appears to mirror its composition. This dual structure creates a dialogue between real and illusory, whole and part, the abstract and the subtly referential - further to the shadowy associations of the work's title.

In spite of its rigorous geometry, on close inspection 'Night volumes' reveals a handmade look rather than machine aesthetic. The overall scale of each panel is based on the width of Mais's outstretched arms - an intimate index of the artist's body that runs counter to the work's seemingly cool compositional logic.


Other Title

Night volumes II



Materials used

oil on timber, oil on canvas


211.0 x 402.0 x 20.0 cm overall :

a - sculpture; 191 x 190.5 x 6 cm

b - painting; 191 x 191 x 6 cm

Signature & date

Signed and dated upper c. verso [part a], black fibre-tipped pen "Hilarie Mais 1996".
Signed and dated u.r. verso on stretcher [part b], black fibre-tipped pen "Hilarie Mais 1996".


Gift of Michael Whitworth 2014. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Hilarie Mais

Works in the collection


Shown in 3 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 3 publications


Felicity Fenner, Australian art collector, 'Hilarie Mais: the unlocked grid', pg. 86-91, Sydney, Apr 2000-Jun 2000, 88, 91 (colour illus.). incorrectly dated 1997

Peter Hill, Hilarie Mais: survey of works 1974-2004, 'The grid as self portrait', pg. 8-12, Canberra, 2004, 10, 22, 23 (colour illus.).

Nick Waterlow, Hilarie Mais, Sydney, 1997, cover (colour illus.). incorrectly dated 1997