Ruth Root's Painting Abstraction

Chicago born painter's work appears to be painted on the wall, not the canvas. How does she do that?
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Untitled (2007-08) enamel on aluminium - Ruth Root from Painting Abstraction
Untitled (2007-08) enamel on aluminium - Ruth Root from Painting Abstraction

Bob Nickas's Painting Abstraction: New Elements In Abstract Painting is an astonishingly rich and generous volume, both in terms of the art profiled and the accompanying text – practically every turn of the page represents a bursting, colourful epiphany. The author argues that, far from having abandoned painting and the galleries for other forms of art such as site specific, performance or mixed media, a significant number of modern artists remain attracted to painting and to the canvas, to both the traditions and the still-unexplored potential of abstract art. Eighty of them are featured in this collection, grouped in chapters that reflect their particular take on the genre.

 

Untitled (2007-08) enamel on aluminium - Ruth Root from Painting Abstraction
Untitled (2007-08) enamel on aluminium - Ruth Root from Painting Abstraction

Ruth Root, a Chicago born artist, appears in the chapter entitled Colour and Structure. Far from wishing to escape the confines of the gallery, she is particularly fascinated by the relationship between her art and the wall on which it is hung. “The wall,” she says, “is the negative space, and functions as the rest of the canvas.”

 

Untitled (2008) enamel on aluminium - Ruth Root from Painting Abstraction
Untitled (2008) enamel on aluminium - Ruth Root from Painting Abstraction

Her work Untitled 2007-8 is a striking example of what she means. As is her wont, it's designed to hang very flat, using an extremely thin, aluminium support – you might think it's been painted directly onto the wall. Yet for all this,  it leaps right out at you, not least because of Root's almost irreverently bold use of colour and shape. On the left, a group of rectangles in slightly lurid shades of green, brown, mauve look to have tumbled to the side by accident. Dominating the right hand side is a large block of yellow, faintly reminiscent of Roy Lichtenstein, like a giant, empty cartoon speech bubble. There's a serio-comic intent about Root's work that speaks volumes, inviting the reply; tell us more. So if you'd like to know more why not check out Painting Abstraction: New Elements In Abstract Painting in the online store now.


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