Rebecca Salter

AG12, 2014

mixed media on muslin on canvas

110 x 150 cm


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Artwork
Description

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The consideration of any painting is an in-depth process, one of aesthetic appreciation that seeks a profound commonality between artist and audience. In abstract painting especially, there are often a great many elements of the work to be registered by the viewer. Achim Borchardt-Hume, Head of Exhibitions at the Tate Modern, has noted that, in her own pieces, Rebecca Salter seeks to offer “a space for reflection on [these] unspoken assumptions that circumscribe the ways in which abstract paintings are experienced.”

In keeping with the country’s polytheistic viewpoints, traditional Japanese depictions of landscape are not structured around a single, fixed point of centrality or governed by laws of a central perspective. Instead, there exists distinct elements in a fluid space. Inspired by her time in Japan, Salter’s ‘AG12’ is a prime example of such a stance, for within her diaphanous, monochromatic work, each element inevitably relates to something else, creating a sort of emergent pattern despite the lack of a discernable image. By asking us to let go of our preconceived notions of centrality in painting, Salter invites us instead to privilege coherence over proportionality.

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

May 3rd, 2017 until
August 4th, 2017
Curated by ARTUNER