Rebecca Salter

AD21, 2012

mixed media on canvas

65 x 70 cm


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Artwork
Description

Rebecca Salter trained as ceramist in England, before spending six years in Japan studying traditional Japanese craftsmanship techniques at Kyoto City University of Arts. Back in the country of her birth, Salter left pottery for painting, transposing the texture of ceramic onto the flatness of canvas, exploring mark-making and minimal abstraction from both the Eastern and the Western perspective.  

Salter’s works sit in indeterminate territory. Bridging East and West, they merge elements of both traditions, and in doing so suggest a reflection upon their intertwined histories within twentieth-century modernism.

Always interested in creating an ‘object’ rather than simply painting on a surface, Salter challenges the traditional hierarchy between front and back of the canvas. Indeed, in this work the artist originally painted on the opposite side of of the canvas and only later turned her composition ‘inside out’ exhibiting the – supposedly hidden – back of the work, where the water-based hue had barely seeped through. Here, she further complicated the relationship of the viewer with the work, by adding a ‘filter’, or ‘screen’ of subtle white marks which simultaneously reveal and conceal themselves and the background composition as the beholder’s eyes move in and out of focus.

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

October 1st, 2018 until
November 9th, 2018
Curated by ARTUNER