“Although my work has taken other forms (folds, slabs, sheets, zip folds) my fundamental interest in the detachability of signification as a way to re-construct form and desire continues to be an underlying motivation in my work.” –Linda Besemer
Linda Besemer (b. 1957) is an abstract painter based in Southern California celebrated for her stunning, optical works that upend commonly held notions of what makes a painting. Her work subtly expresses, through formal means, her distinct political outlook. Normally one expects a painting to consist of pigment, whether oil, acrylic or watercolor, applied to some sort of ground, whether canvas, panel or paper. In an exciting subversion of tradition, Besemer creates double-sided paintings (“folds”) of pure acrylic pigment without a ground. Rather than framing her paintings, Besemer drapes these pliable works over rods attached to the wall. More recently, she began creating sculptural “slabs,” in which layer after layer of vibrant acrylic color is built up to a thickness of up to five inches, then the mass is sculpted, revealing colors, shapes and patterns.
In the early 20th century, abstraction was envisioned as a revolutionary common language. In the 2nd half of the century, abstraction became increasingly apolitical. While updating abstraction for the 21st century, Besemer’s work contains implicit political and social critique, hearkening back to the movement’s radical roots.
Born in South Bend, Indiana, and educated at Indiana University (BFA) and the Tyler School of Art (MFA), Besemer lives in Los Angeles where she teaches painting, drawing, and critical studies at Occidental College.