Visual language – The Martha’s Vineyard Times
Three artists are exhibiting in both the physical and virtual gallery of the West Tisbury Library this month in “The Abstract Collective”. While everyone’s art is unique, they avoid all recognizable subjects.
The paintings of artist Robert Hauck have a tactile quality that invites us to take a close look at his surfaces. He creates fascinating textures using “scraped gesso or some other type of backing.” I’m looking for texture because that’s part of what is revealed. In some cases, I would take an old painting and cover it so that the pentimento [a visible trace of earlier painting beneath a layer or layers of paint on a canvas] helped shape my impression of what painting was. I came with the feeling that the painting I was doing was already there on the blank canvas. My job was to unveil it.
Hauck says that all painting is abstract in that it represents aspects of the three-dimensional world on a two-dimensional surface. âI use shape, color, line and texture to capture a moment, place, experience or emotion,â he says.
Hauck says his art is almost geological: âIf you got a bunch of them together, that would be how you felt over a period of time. If you underlay something, or there’s one already there, and cover it with another layer, and then cover it with another layer, you create layers of time. .
This process of layering and revelation engages us directly in the work of art, inviting us to look, feel and experience them.
Much of the immediacy of Wendy Weldon’s work lies in its alluring color, which often vibrates with a vitality all its own. She writes on her website: âColor reflects energy. I mix a color that matches my emotion. Then I mix another one up and when they are close to each other they change, my feelings change and something new is created. This new color takes me to a place I have never been before. It has its mystery and I want to stay there, in the unknown.
Like Hauck, most of his works have been painted over existing pieces, making them, as Weldon shares, “reincarnations with the energy of the old painting still there.”
In “Stillness”, she sanded the surface so that the old paint could show through in places. It evokes an atmosphere almost like a temple, with a spiritual association. After spending time visiting temples in Bali, the artist said, âThat feeling of stillness when you go up those stone stairs that millions of people seem to have walked on because the stone is actually worn out where it is. people stepped on it. There is this sense of old age, of history, and then you walk into this temple which is so peaceful and still.
In âStepping Lightly,â Weldon’s canvas is much more active, full of brushstrokes and areas that recede and advance. In âLanguageâ, Weldon plays with opacity and transparency. She masterfully uses gold leaf to a great effect. âGold leaf has this great luminosity that comes from behind all the other colors,â she says. “Even when the color is opaque, like turquoise green.”
Weldon always plays with his composition. âThe shapes change, the colors are constantly modified, the lines are drawn and then removed, the energy rises, until the painting can say, I am complete! Or he can say, stop working, take a break and come back to me later, or in a week, when you can see what is wrong with the paint. Each painting has its own unique story.
Like Hauck and Weldon, Mary-Louise Rouff’s approach is instinctive, intuitive. While his formal schooling was in traditional art – creating the illusion of three-dimensional space on two-dimensional surfaces – his work is also completely abstract. She says, âI can be so instinctive today because I had this traditional training. It’s like a cook; you don’t need every measure in a cookbook, but go with what you think it should be and it goes well.
Like her compatriots, Rouff is keenly aware of how colors react to each other, of the warmth they give off when they meet, of how one can push the other back. She shares on her website: âWhen I work, it’s usually the shapes and colors of the previous painting that are still in my brain. What usually happens changes completely. I often mix paints and put them on. I look at this and decide, what does it need now? “
Rouff adds: âWhen I paint, I can start with a few intuitive washes and marks until my mind is warmed up. Sometimes I start with ideas sparked by fortuitous events – a thread of pattern in the canvas, a brushstroke in the gesso, or the outline of a color that seems familiar to me. Then I respond to the images as they develop. My criterion of authenticity is how engaged I feel in this crucial game. The discipline is to remain acutely aware of the process at all times. In short, my paintings are a construction from fragments of visual memory. My work is always about the landscape of a personal kind.
The exhibition âThe Abstract Collectiveâ invites us not only to see but to experience the work of artists on a visceral level, to feel their unique contribution to a show of impressive impact.
“The Abstract Collective” is on display at West Tisbury Library through October and permanently online in the library’s virtual gallery space at wtlibraryvirtualgallery.org.