- Exhibition: BLACK
- Showing: October 22nd 2015 - November 28th 2015
“… I was no longer working with black… but with the material of black, the surfaces of black… created a light… and this light is a secret light… a light that is not obvious… it was coming out of the black….”
BLACK is number six in the Art of the Real series shows I have curated for Space Gallery. Each show in this series manifests itself in the “non-objective”: art that is not representational, that contains no recognizable figures or objects, and art that has no intentional derivation from any concrete matter.
The work for BLACK was selected because each artist uses black, not as negative space, but as an opening from which to reveal what lies at the edge of vision.
Curated by: Marks Aardsma
Concept by: Sharon Swidler
For several decades, Marks Aardsma has explored the ontology of painting (canvas) – the nature of painting in and of itself, investigating the essential properties of painting: color, line and rhythm, surface texture and tension, shadow and light …. principally via subtraction or deconstruction of canvas to reveal its original structure – vertical and horizontal threads or lines – and eliminating all the ‘stuff’ artists have been adding to the canvas surface for centuries. The result is line, light, shadow – on the surface and behind the surface. Her work is pure, clean and raw. The space is physical, not illusory. Marks Aardsma’s pieces are not abstractions of an objective reality, but expressions of object-ness – all the visual aspects of her work are real and immediate.
Using repetitive marks to develop my images, I explore the concept that complexity can arise from the interaction of many simple components – examples include flocks of birds flying in unison, molecules and microscopic particles forming our visible world, and separate notes forming a musical composition. In these drawings, the individual marks – like notes of music – gain complexity when composed and layered. Drawn on the front and back of the drafting vellum, the marks appear to merge into a fluid form while remaining separated by varying amounts of space. The thin, translucent drawing surface allows the form to appear whole while also acting as a barrier: marks are either on the front or back but cannot occupy the space of the drafting vellum. Remnants of erased marks blur the boundary of this barrier and add to the illusion of depth or volume. The resulting images invite the viewer to draw closely, inspecting the manner in which the marks interact with the surface.
My purpose as an artist is not necessarily to tell the truth—it is to captivate you for as long as I can hold your attention. It is not necessary for the artwork to be any more than what it is. What is necessary is for the art to flow from inside and to allow the artwork to spring from my entire set of experiences and sensibilities as an artist.
My current favorite giants, to name just the women, are Agnes Martin and Joan Mitchell for the purity of their thought and action on the canvas as well as Linda Karshan, Sandra Blow, Vija Celmins, and Katherina Grosse. Whether what they do is lyrical, expository or just plain brash, to my way of thinking they are all pure abstract expressionists who make marks, lines, shapes, colors on paper, canvas, even buildings, and say to us, “here look at this, make of it what you will.”
The Tango Series is a group of paintings I have been developing since 2009. It grew out of the Labyrinth Series and continues to explore the theme of unpredictable passages through ones’ life. For this recent body of work I have focused on one motif, the intertwined oval configuration. I am continuing to use abstraction semiotically to express concerns of entanglement, puzzlement, connectedness, and disconnectedness. The personal metaphor also moves to a larger context of the global and the present day multitude of world problems. The painting’s images of intertwined, and at the same time, disconnected ovals reference a state of complication, confusion, and perplexity. Moreover, the paintings are, like their title, about the dance; its movement, precision, and seduction.
I use the classical Renaissance technique of metalpoint in ways which challenge all the traditional concepts. Juxtaposing a wide variety of metals (silver, gold, brass, copper, platinum, pewter, bronze and aluminum) I obtain soft shifts in tone and color reminiscent of the luminous transparency of watercolor. Lines and tone evoke an atmosphere of serenity, and the shimmer of light on the surface, created by the metals, is quite unlike any of the usual effects of metalpoint.
I have been working within a square format almost exclusively since 1997. In recent works, I created a counterpoint between fine lines drawn with a stylus and broad swatches of bronze, aluminum or copper tones that are made with metal wool pads.
For the exhibition entitled “Black” I used a ground of black gesso on panels with significant depth so that the image could wrap around the edges. I consider these works 3-dimensional drawings and they range from minimal imagery to works of a more complex linearity.
For the past twenty years my work has been concerned with interlocking lines and the spaces they form. I create a sense of weightlessness and luminescence by the manipulation of narrow gauge industrial wire. I am exploring the contradiction between metal elements known for their strength and durability and the delicacy of the textiles created. In some works lace-like layers of nets allow for transparency, the passage of light and the formation of shadows. In other works the nets are thickly layered and become almost opaque. Lines cross and re-cross to create a complex fabric and tangle of shadows. The objects appear fragile, but I seek to maintain their strength through the use of these materials.
Although a grid is often a rather mechanical arrangement, its classical order and repetitive structure expresses a purity of line and clarity of form that I love. Using minimalist grids to develop meditative fields of layered oil paint, my work contrasts visual elements of stillness and rhythm, order and randomness, and the geometric with the organic. My process is both methodical and intuitive. Each individual unit of the grid is carefully composed, one at a time, starting from upper left to lower right. Every small rectangle is developed in relation to the surrounding rectangles. The slow, contemplative process of building up the forms, textures, and composition is a healing and meditative experience, which is further heightened by the repetitive, devotional application of the grid itself.
I was 15 when I first encountered Clyfford Still’s 1951/1552 at The Art Institute of Chicago and was immediately entranced; filled with wonder about the mystery that lay within a two dimensional black surface, and delighted by the strength of the patches of color that dared to jump out of the seemingly endless void. 1951/1552 made sense and became my touchstone, serving as a portal to the simultaneous quiet and chaos within my soul.
In 2009, AIC built a new wing and relegated 1951/1552 to storage. I miss it, but having spent so much time contemplating this painting, it continues to resonate and influence my work as an artist. I am proud to premiere my “Still” series of paintings in Denver.
High Resolution Images Available Upon Request