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A Painting by Ravenna Taylor

Decay of Sound, 2013, 22 x 24 inches, Oil, Canvas, Wood
This painting by artist Ravenna Taylor is currently part of an online exhibition of her work, which you can see here. In an exchange of comments via Facebook, Ravenna mentioned that a lot of people liked her older work better, so I decided to do an experiment: I went to the online gallery, looked through the images on show without looking at any dates or titles, and chose the first few that caught me eye. It turned out that in each case, I was drawn to the new work.

There are many things I like about this painting. I like the way it plays with geometric abstraction, but loosely -- nothing is drawn with a ruler, nothing is rigid or too straight, all is marked out by the patient movement of a hand and a brush, putting down mark after mark. It's possible that the idea or the selection of shapes starts out planned, but it doesn't look that way in the execution. It all looks like the artist was alive to how putting one shape against another shape might change the balance of the composition, so that one or two shapes found their way onto the surface unannounced, like last-minute guests at the party who arrive with just the right bottle of wine in their hands. It's a contemplative painting: the squiggly shapes on the left (which might be derived from sound waves, maybe not) move the eye quicker over the picture plane than the squares and segments on the right, but on the whole it's a slow picture. A picture that takes its time. I like the colour selection, too, with the muted, bleached out tones inviting sensations of rest, and just a couple of lines of dark red to provide a hint of warmth.

Matthew Collings said something recently about how abstract painting often depends on context for its effect and its meanings. So that patterns and forms that are unbounded by the edges of a picture do indeed look like they might come from a pattern-catalogue, but once they are surrounded by some white space, the eye reads them differently, and looks for values in them other than the pleasure of pure repetition.This painting does that for me: enough balance to satisfy the human need for proportion, and enough space in it to invite that urge to return to the site of something inexplicable.

Comments

  1. Philip, my warmest thanks! I am practically speechless with the pleasure of your understanding.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for that. Love the writing and now love the work too. I feel a bit silly not being so attracted to the work before reading and loving it after.
    Regards

    ReplyDelete

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