Beyond the personal… and Agnes Martin at Tate Modern

I immerse myself in place, in music, in words, in the visual.  In fact in whatever claims my obsessive attention.  I need to delve deep to draw, to listen to the sounds, to explore the memory , the history and the personal relevance of a place until I understand it visually and can begin to express it though line, colour, form and tone.  Drawing is one of the languages I use to ‘write’ down my response to a particular experience, remaking it so that it has a relevance beyond the personal.

New Unstable Horizon Drawings.  Charcoal and graphite on Arches Hot Press.

I completed another one today which has thicker lines.  I like the idea of the instability of the diagonal married to a powerful unbroken bar of charcoal.

Quick trip to London last week and I went to Tate Modern to see the Gauguin Exhibition.  Emerging from the colour and heat of Tahiti I went into the Artist Room and to my delight found it was filled with ten large square Agnes Martin paintings.  The room was empty, unlike the Gauguin which was packed, so I sat in quiet contemplation reveling in the perfect imperfection of her drawn line and the sense her works give of the infinite.

Just outside the Artist’s Room was a painting by Maria Helena Vieira da Silva 1908 – 1992.  I have seen it before but with my current attention to the idea of Unstable Horizons it seemed particularly relevant.  A monochrome painting of diamonds and squares  and lines perfectly expressing a  destabilised  interior space.

The Corridor  1950
Oil on canvas
Vieira da Silva was a key figure within the field of expressive abstraction in post-war Paris. However her work always retained a strong basis of reference to the visible world. Many of her paintings depict labyrinthine interior spaces, with complex or multiple lines of perspective. The elaborate mosaic and tiled surfaces recall the domestic architecture of her native Portugal. This picture was first exhibited in 1950 as The Corridor, but later became known as The Grey Room.

(Extract from Tate website)


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