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Though she is primarily known for her use of traditional Japanese practices and materials, Rebecca Salter’s ‘H31’ is a truly British work of art. Having spent every autumn since 1988 in the Lake District of north west England, Salter’s engagement with the landscapes made famous by British Romantics like Turner, Coleridge, and Wordsworth have characterised the modus operandi of a number of her works.
She begins by creating a painting which she then cuts up and reassembles onto a backing sheet. She has no particular image in mind, and, in her reassemblage, she mirrors the “chance operations” central to process of the Beat poets, maintaining a delicate equilibrium between objectivity and subjectivity.
The German Romantic philosopher Friedrich Schlegel theorises that the function of each snippet of memory rests in its ability to be simultaneously from both the past and the future. For him, as for Salter, the creation of a new entity from the pieces of another is an archetypal Romantic endeavor, for it aims to resolve the fragmentary nature of experience. Indeed, though she never begins with an end image in mind, the paintings she creates represent entire worlds within which the viewer will lose themselves.