Rebecca Salter (British, b.1955) is a painter and printmaker based in London. She graduated from Bristol Polytechnic in 1977 and subsequently went on to study at Kyoto City University of the Arts Japan. Salter is a lecturer in Printmaking at Camberwell College of Art and was elected to the Royal Academy of Arts in 2014.
Salter lived and worked in Japan from 1981 to 1985. Her decision to move was partly informed by her training as a potter and the desire to learn traditional Japanese ceramic and printing methods. In 2001, Salter published a book on the subject of printing, Japanese Woodblock Printing, which was followed in 2006 with the publication of Japanese Popular Prints, which explored another of the artist’s interests: calligraphy.
Practices of craftsmanship greatly influenced Salter’s later approach to painting; she approaches the canvas as object, not merely a surface. Often, this means that the distinction between the back and front of a painting does not exist: the painting exists as an entire whole. The lines and gestures made by Salter find their origin in the techniques used by master Japanese calligraphers, who viewed the page as a space, with its own sense of depth. The act of line making was not only a method of marking, but also a way to realise this space, where the application of different pressures when drawing would result in a different rapport with the page itself.
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.
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.