natural wood and paint on wood
diptych, overall: 117 x 288 cm
Gift of Eva Besen AO and Marc Besen AO
Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2008, TarraWarra Museum of Art collection
Contact TarraWarra Museum of ArtCopyright
© Estate of Rosalie Gascoigne
As perhaps the most archetypal form of modernist abstraction, the grid has been employed as a formal, compositional device in countless artworks over the past century.
In ‘Grids’ (1979), Rosalind Krauss’ seminal essay on the subject, she describes this structural device as: [f]lattened, geometricized, ordered, it is antinatural, antimimetic, antireal. It is what art looks like when it turns its back on nature’. However, for Rosalie Gascoigne, the grid was employed as a compositional method in order to generate highly personal and experiential evocations of natural phenomena in ways which transcended the more rigid, impersonal qualities associated with its geometry.
In one of her late works entitled Afternoon (1996), Gascoigne assembled 27 individual panels of found painted timber in roughly similar sizes in a grid-like formation. At a surface level the serial repetition of components arranged and balanced according to vertical and horizontal axes corresponds to a reductive Minimalist sensibility. However, it is the heavily weathered timber with its faded white paint which infuses the work with a resonant and suggestive force. As the artist traversed the open countryside she deliberately sought out materials that she felt were ‘invested with the spirit of the place’ and capable of recalling ‘the feeling of an actual moment in the landscape’. In this light, the vital materiality of the reclaimed painted timber is not only inscribed with the effects of its prolonged exposure to the elements, but it also speaks directly to Gascoigne’s deep and abiding memories of her experiences in the landscape. In Afternoon, the richly allusive quality of the individual boards is suggestive of passing clouds, evoking the ephemeral and transitory phenomena of nature in continuous metamorphosis. Contemplated as a unified pictorial whole, this humble assemblage of discarded and deteriorating matter assumes a metaphysical dimension bordering on the ineffable, one which resoundingly accords with the artist’s desire to ‘capture the “nothingness” of the countryside, those wide open spaces … the great Unsaid … the silence that often only visual beauty transcends’.
- Rosalind Krauss, ‘Grids’, October, Vol. 9, Summer, 1979, p. 50.
- Quoted in Deborah Edwards, Rosalie Gascoigne: Material as Landscape, (exh. cat.), Sydney: Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1997, p. 8.
- Ibid, p. 16.