Rebecca Salter

AG25, 2014

mixed media on muslin on canvas

110 x 150 cm


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Artwork
Description

Rebecca Salter’s paintings are minimal abstractions heavily influenced by Japanese aesthetics. Jun’ichrō Tanizaki’s In Praise of Shadows is a seminal text for the artist; the subtleties and reserved tones in Salter’s works reflect Tanizaki’s evaluations upon Asian arts’ preference for dark colours.

In AG25 Salter worked on muslin with various inks and pigments, which was then glued onto a stretched canvas. The work achieves a balance between cloudy ink and faint patches of the muslin, which gives the work a sense of depth. It is muted and ink trails impart the canvas with a texture that appears stained. There is a quiet transience also; the work appears as if it is gaseous, shifting around the space of the page. Yet, it is markedly eerie; it contains a spectral quality that is haunting; the two black concentrations in the middle of the canvas fix the eye. The indiscriminate formations recall those used in the Rorschach test, where the viewer identifies objects and figures out of seemingly non-figuration compositions.

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