Rebecca Ward_ London, 9 October – 5 December 2015 at Ronchini Gallery
You reference minimalism, abstract art, post-war Italian art and Arte Povera, however is there a particular artist who has significantly influenced your work?
I really adore the work of Agnes Martin (who comes out of American minimalism and expressionism) and Dadamaino (who was Italian post-war). They share a close relationship but approached their practices in rather different ways. I’ve been reading Martin’s biography, and it has made me think about the way her life became synonymous with her art making. With Dadamaino I’m interested in her three dimensional wall works and her use of illusional space with two dimensional objects. I also admire her Alphabet of the Mind series which seems to share a close relationship with Martin’s grids.
What is the relationship between your installation work and your 3 dimensional canvases? Did one influence the other, if so to what extent?
Without a doubt, if I hadn’t made the large-scale installation work I would have never arrived at the paintings I’m making now. All parts of my practice are closely informed by the various methods of my making. When I made the move to painting I began to realize that the planar space of a canvas is a multi-dimensional surface and can be experienced the same way we experience the walls and architecture of a room. That was a tremendous moment for me, when I realized painting could express the same concepts as my installations. Many of my paintings have three dimensional qualities, and a frame is even an architectural support system itself. I do call them paintings, but I recognize that they also exist as sculptural objects on a wall. I don’t feel that the ultimate expression of any of my work is necessarily tied to its form and that lends a great deal of freedom to my practice. The ideas I produce are most importantly related to processes and materials.
What role does the frame play within your art, with particular emphasis to your X series where it almost becomes part of the artwork itself?
The silk organza works or sign series is part of my ongoing exploration between architecture, letters, signs, and their meanings. I dye and stretch the fabric over an X-shaped frame, and the transparency of the silk organza reveals the what’s beneath the surface. This provides an important reference to three-dimensional or illusional space while remaining a two dimensional object or even a kind of false painting on the wall. The shape of the frame and the structure that is revealed behind the fabric is as important as the surface of the work. I began by making the X-frames in response to the traditional perpendicular cross frame. I’ve since expanded on this thought and widened the relationship with typography by adding a / and a \ (which are also parallelograms in their own right), a triangle, and an L shape.
In your X series, the painted silk almost acts as a membrane between visitor and what stands behind, what would be the effect of exhibiting these as hanging objects rather than mounting them on a wall?
Really this becomes a question of environment and space. In my opinion, it’s the space that dictates the orientation and hanging (or leaning) of a work. Sometimes these paintings do come off the wall and an interplay of shadow and light become involved. I have previously leaned an X piece against the wall and it cast the shadow of the frame onto the floor. With an L-shaped frame, I did an installation at Exchiesetta in Polignano a Mare and turned the piece 180 degrees, propping it perpendicular to the wall . This created a false buttress or suggested support. When the works are treated in this way, the reference to architecture and interplay between the environment become more obvious and overt.
In what way do the colours used evoke memory and sentiment for you?
I’m exploring the ways that color palettes can recall memories in the same way that familiar smells can instantly take you back to a specific time and place. When I stopped making tape installations, I began removing the more saturated colors in my work. This was due to the range of colors available within adhesive products, so my use of color was largely tied to medium. As my palette expanded with painting, I wanted to consider how softer tones or more muted colors could suggest a saturated color and allow for more light to exist in the work. I’ve also been thinking about color palettes that relate to makeup and cosmetics. That territory has a rich relationship to gender, the body, and creates a more personal narrative in regards to color.
Rebecca Ward (b. 1984, Waco, TX) lives and works in New York. She received her BA in Fine Arts from University of Texas in 2006, and an MFA in Fine Arts from School of Visual Arts, New York in 2012. Rebecca Ward produces paintings and large-scale installations, preferring an eclectic range non-traditional materials including: bleach, spray paint, tape and dye. Influenced by Minimalism, Abstract Art and Arte Povera her varied practice surrounds the iconography of feminine gesture, contemporary Americana culture and craft. Her much-celebrated tape installations adhere to ceilings, walls and floors, converging with existing architecture to create site-specific geometric designs.