patternsthatconnect

abstract art, a systems view

Posts Tagged ‘Abstraction and Artifice in 20th Century Art

in the Attic

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A few hundred yards from my hotel in Swansea (see yesterday blog), there is the Attic Gallery, apparently Wales’ longest established private gallery.

Attic attic gallery

The Attic website says that the gallery “was founded in 1962 to highlight the work of contemporary artists working in Wales.” I think the word ‘contemporary’ here refers to ‘living and working today’ as opposed to ‘modern’ or, in more recent usage, ‘more modern than modern’, which may also imply ‘post-modern’ and ‘having “high Art” pretensions’. I wouldn’t describe the work on show at Attic using these other definitions of the word ‘contemporary’.

I saw paintings by Kathryn Le Grice. I liked them. Here’s an image of one the paintings in the show, (on until Saturday 2 July), Central Park NY (Bridge II) . Painted in 2010/11, I understand that is is more typical of her earlier work.

Kathryn Le Grice, Central Park, NY (Bridge II), mixed media, 17.5 x 23 ins,image courtesy of Attic Gallery

And here is another, more typical of later work, Circle of Trees.

Kathryn Le Grice, Circle of Trees, acrylic, 11.5 x 7 ins, image by courtesy of Attic Gallery

Both these paintings, like all her work in this show, are abstract in the sense of ‘abstracted from’. (If my memory is correct Harold Osborne uses the term ‘semantic abstraction’ for this type of abstraction, which is actually a form of representation, as opposed to ‘syntactic’ or ‘non-iconic abstraction’ for work that claims to represent nothing other than itself. In the late 70s, when he was writing about this, I think the distinction might have mattered more than it seems to do today.)

Le Grice abstracts from nature and architecture “the patterns which form part of our everyday world” making paintings in acrylic or mixed media, that are quite modest in size. The forms she paints inhabit a shallow, cubist-like space, if I have the chronology correct many of the later works are larger in size.

Circle of Trees is a later painting, but small at less than 12″ in either direction. It is the stained-glass-like luminosity of the colour that impresses me. Even from a distance it looks bright. It is reminiscent of a Rouault, with the thick black lines adding to both the stained-glass look and to the luminosity of the colours, arranged in complementaries of green/red and blue/orange.  It has a rhythm based on a central diagonal line around which the tree shapes seem to curve, creating a single arabesque shape.

It is supposed to be decorative, and it is! Decorative is a bad word in some circles. It’s not a bad word for me. And not for the circle of trees either!

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