Friday, 7 March 2014

Visit to Rowena Comrie's studio

Last week I visited fellow artist and Scottish Artists Union President, Rowena Comrie in her studio at the Briggait, Glasgow.

Rowena and I share a passion for colour and we both work in an abstract manner.

Her website   states:

[Rowena has] an aesthetic in painting that is informed by vibrating colour relationships and formal balancing. The tension between colours and shapes offers to the viewer both an immediate spontaneous response and considered intellectual reflection.

We had an interesting discussion about the process of making work. I enjoy using process to impose some restrictions but open up possibilities within my work, and I think Rowena uses process in a similar way. She pours paint onto a canvas on the floor of her studio and then uses a squeegee to move the paint. The form the paint takes is somewhat uncontrollable. 

I was particularly drawn to some of her smaller framed works, and she explained that these were sections of larger paintings that she had cut up. One of the things I liked about these works was that they were more composed than some of the larger works. I imagine that is because the action of cutting the sections from the larger paintings is adding another process and opportunity for some control. 

Using sections of a larger painting means that it is still possible for the smaller works to feature large marks; this would not be possible if the canvas was made small to begin with.

Often these smaller works are simplified or have a limited colour palate, and this seems to add sophistication as a conscious selection has been made by the artist.

As I sifted through some of her 'cut offs' I was curious as to whether they could be exhibited without a frame, simply pinned to the wall. We agreed to do a work swap, and I selected the following cut offs:

Rowena spoke of her residency last year in America, and the impact that this had on her work. The 'American Series' have a distinct quality and energy, perhaps due to the time constraints placed upon her for creating a body of work to exhibit at the end of the residency. This made it easier to avoid overworking paintings.

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