EDDA RENOUF – Artist Statement
Essential to my paintings and drawings is the revealing of an abstract structure and energy inherent to my materials, the linen canvas and cotton paper. In my paintings, after holding a stretched canvas up to the light, which allows me to see the movement of the weave, I am inspired to remove certain threads which in some works I also then reapply. I continue by priming the canvas and then apply several thin coats of acrylic paint. This is followed by a careful sanding of the surface that again makes visible the organic and geometric structures within the linen material. In my drawings I incise lines with an etching point to remove particles of paper before applying sometimes several layers of chalk or oil pastel. Breaking away from the traditional approach to linen and paper, which are usually used as grounds on which to paint an image, my working process reveals and uncovers the organic life and abstract energy within the materials .
In removing threads from the linen canvas and incising and scraping lines in the paper, various juxtapositions basic to the life of the art works become visible: for example, the positive areas of the ground versus the negative spaces created by the extraction of threads in my paintings or of particles of paper in the drawings; the contrast between the geometry of the stretcher bars I use for my paintings and the organic flexibility of the linen fiber of the canvas; the difference between the crisp scraped lines in my drawings versus the uneven more organic incised lines; or the contrast between the well defined lines created by removed and applied threads in my paintings versus the aleatory, cloud-like areas of color that have been sanded. I have defined the coming together of these juxtaposed contrasting qualities as analogous to the rational and irrational, that is, the Apollonian and Dionysian forces of life and existence.
Some of the sources of inspiration that have become recurrent themes in my work are the four natural elements; time and memory; and that of sound and music. The linen canvas and paper originate from the flax and cotton plants, which depend on the four natural elements; also the acrylic paint and pastels originate from earth. The four elements are in this way directly related to my material’s structure and are thus often used in the titles of the works. For example, the abstract structures revealed to me are metaphors, signs that relate to air, water, earth and fire (sun).The signs appear with the removing and reapplying of threads, and are related to corresponding colors: greys and grey-blues in varying tones are reminiscent of air; cobalt and ultramarine blues of water; siennas, oxide red, oranges and yellow-ochres of the earth, fire and sun. More recently, these signs have also become the basis of an alphabet found in the linen's weave. In 2006, I made a little book titled "24 Signs (a year found in the linen canvas)", which is a collection of signs related to the months of the year and the four elements.
My works are thus a record of the days, weeks, months and seasons when they were created becoming a journal of my working process, while at the same time their structures and signs relate to thoughts and memory; to music and sound, themes that point to the idea of ‘making the invisible visible’ thereby revealing the movement and hidden presence of wave structures in our universe and again the abstract energy within my materials.
Edda Renouf, 2009
*Quoted by Edda Renouf in Judy K. Collischan Van Wagner. Lines of Vision : Drawings by Contemporary Women
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