Exhibition – Rita Ackermann : Turning Air Blue

I had seen this exhibition advertised and was intrigued that her work was made with washes of chalk – my immediate thoughts being about the fragility of the work and how it is (if it is?) fixed for a big exhibition. I hadn’t felt moved to go, but later found myself there, at Hauser and Wirth Somerset, anyway. I was blown away by the work. The scale of the work is what struck me first, and then the depth in these works which initially appear quite simple. Closer looking reveals fragments and traces of drawings that have been worked over. Figures appear through the layers in this fragile landscape.

I still found myself intrigued by her process and with a little searching later found an article that gave an insight –

‘Ackermann primes the canvas with traditional chalkboard paint before drawing out a figurative scene in chalk. The drawings are then partially washed away in vigorous sweeping gestures that oscillate between the visible and invisible, revealing only limited emphasis on method, subject and production. The repetitive steps of layering and erasure cause the chalk lines to dissolve in a cyclical process through which new abstracted images and shapes emerge. These are then further overworked with spray paint, prior to a final fixative seal.’

So, interesting for me to see that she does use a fixative -obvious really! This has been one of those technical dilemmas that I have spent time thinking about in relation to my ‘Trace’ drawings and how they might be exhibited.

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