Rebecca Salter

AA 49, 2000

mixed media on paper

32 x 66 cm

Between £ 3000 - 10,000


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Artwork
Description

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Rebecca Salter considers there to be a correlation between the amount of time it takes her to complete a work, and the amount of time that should be spent viewing it. A devout minimalist, Salter has mastered the ability to employ subtle applications of color and form to incite engaged ways of seeing. She developed this interest during her time as an artist-in-residence with the Josef and Anni Albers foundation. Josef Albers was devoted to studying the nuances of visual perception, and did so most ardently in his seminal series Homage to the Square. This obsessive undertaking involved thousands of works, each unequivocally depicting layered configurations of colored squares. The resultant effect was a body of visually stimulating exercises of sight.

Albers innovations are a key reference point for Salter’s own explorations of optics and human perception. This relationship is apparent in the selected work, in which Salter renders Albers’ compositional formula through her own distinct style. The result is a composition populated by rectangular applications of color on paper. These opaque shapes are layered with overlapping edges, a presentation that makes the order of Salter’s applications undetectable. This resultant effect has the shapes seemingly emerging and receding in upon each glance, new configurations of shapes revealing themselves as the eyes adjust to the form. Developing depth from within the pictorial space, this work is exemplary of Salter’s attuned understanding of spatial awareness. In interpreting Albers’ signature method through her own visual language, Salter revitalises the innovations of Homage to the Square, and demonstrates the contemporary value of visual engagement.

About
the artist

Rebecca Salter (British, b.1955) was elected Royal Academician in 2014 and Keeper of the Royal Academy Schools in 2017. She lives and works in London.

In the 1970s, after graduating from the Bristol Polytechnic as a ceramicist, Salter moved to Japan to study at the Kyoto City University of the Arts. There, far from home, Salter struggled to integrate herself with the rest of the student and artist community: she had to overcome cultural and linguistic barriers first. She spent six years in the country, putting herself, her practice and Western history of art into question before deciding it was time to go back home to the United Kingdom.

The result of such a journey of (re)discovery is her incredibly beautiful and distinctive abstract work on canvas and paper. Found at the intersection between Western and Japanese traditions, her practice seeks to bridge a gap between two fundamentally different conceptions of art. In her paintings and drawings, Salter applies notions of mark-making that, traditionally, pertain to calligraphy; the distinction between front and back of the canvas disappears, as the artist focuses on creating an object existing in space, rather than a painted surface; she revisits the great Romantic tradition of landscape and weather painting, through the use of the line, rather than colour.

Salter’s works are heavily detailed minimal abstractions, particular emphasis is given to the interplay between marked and unmarked space on the canvas. The presence of white space is a critical trait of Salter’s work and reveals the relationship the artist has with the concerns of the Hasegawa School of painting. Salter often cites Hasegawa’s Pine Trees as a highly important work for her own practice. The layering of neutral tones often suffuses the work with an ethereal quality, the muted colours offering a tranquil, yet spellbinding, response to nature. Frequently, the use of vertical and horizontal planes structures the work: one is invited to draw from the abstractions a sense of landscape and depth.

Her works can be viewed as obsessive, meditative, delicate, or forceful but they are all, ultimately, bewitching.

Salter has also had a number of architectural commissions, which include both Guy’s Hospital and St George’s Hospital. She has been an artist in residence at Lofoten in Norway and Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, Connecticut. In 2011, Salter had a major retrospective at the Yale Center for British Art: into the light of things 1981-2010.


Salter’s works are heavily detailed minimal abstractions, particular emphasis is given to the interplay between marked and unmarked space on the canvas. The layering of neutral tones often suffuses the work with an ethereal quality, the muted colours offering a tranquil, yet spellbinding, response to nature.


Rebecca Salter
on Artuner

Part of the
exhibition

March 29th, 2018 until
April 24th, 2018
Curated by ARTUNER