We are pleased to announce Diana Copperwhite’s first US solo show in collaboration with Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, Dublin. This follows on from her succesful solo presentation at VOLTA NY earlier this year, and her residency at the Josef Albers Foundation in December 2012.
“Whose afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue” asked Barnett Newman in the sixties amid the era’s monikers of post-painterly abstraction and colour field painting. His answer, and indeed the answers of his compatriots at the time, seem to us now as stately as they are staid. They sit comfortably into the art historical narrative -the progressive imperative of Modernism. The paintings of Diana Copperwhite deliver us back into the maelstrom of colour resurrecting the fear that such charged tints and hues can conjure. Copperwhite’s colours misbehave, taunting and mocking our narrow appreciation of their emotional potential.
We have radiant colour, scrubbed colour, muddied colour, mercurial colour, structural colour, all carefully choreographed within these large canvases. The work carries the evidence of the intense labour of its making. These are not easily won images, we can see from the erasure, the under-painting and the re-painting the myriad of decisions employed in their completion.
These paintings are not abstract but abstractions. In some, the geometrical shaping of certain passages seem to suggest architecture, both internal or external, and at times simultaneously internal and external. These are faint armatures on which to secure the eye, take a breath, before launching into the immensity of colour on offer. Recently the artist has introduced neon radiant colour bars onto the surface. Floating on top of the composition they startle the eye and delight the perception, like freeform riffs in jazz.
So what gives here in these colourful paintings? There is no ironic strategy underlying their production, nor, wacky systemic analysis of colour theory. These are hot paintings, panting with sensuality, overburdened with sensitivity, and demanding –demanding that we give ourselves to them as wholeheartedly as they were created.
Patrick T Murphy, Dublin
(from 1989 to 1998 Murphy was Director of the Institute of Contemporary Art, at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, currently he is Director of the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin).