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JH

Large Albrecht Collages

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Gretchen Albrecht, Torrent, 1988, gouache and collage on paper, 1520 x 2440 mm Gretchen Albrecht, Arcanum, 1989, gouache and collage on paper, 1500 x 2400 mm Gretchen Albrecht's 'Collages 1986-1989', as installed downstairs at Two Rooms. Gretchen Albrecht, Rim of the Lake, 1989, gouache and collage on paper, 1520 x 2100 mm Gretchen Albrecht's 'Collages 1986-1989', as installed downstairs at Two Rooms. Gretchen Albrecht, Falling Waters, 1989, gouache and collage on paper, 1535 x 2320 mm Gretchen Albrecht, Instinct for Seasons, 1989, gouache and collage on paper, 1510 x 2145 mm Gretchen Albrecht, Receptum, 1988, gouache and collage on paper, 2140 x 4700 mm Gretchen Albrecht's 'Collages 1986-1989', as installed downstairs at Two Rooms. Gretchen Albrecht, Ashen Terraces, 1988, gouache and collage on paper on board, 1470 x 2340 mm

With the seven collages, you—and the artist herself it seems at the time—forget the self-consciousness generating edges. There is no sense of restrictive guidance (or cramming into) by a culturally ubiquitous shape. Instead there is an appealing wildness associated with unruly landscape. They have an energetically vibrating graphic quality; they are really drawings made with (often dribbling) paint. Even if they were on stretched linen and not paper that would be the case.

Auckland

 

Gretchen Albrecht
Collages 1988-1989

 

6 March - 9 April 2020

This collection of large grunty collages from the late eighties shows Gretchen Albrecht‘s painting in a refreshing new light, something her two large surveys I have always felt, struggled to do. En masse her  canvas hemispheres collectively became tedious, yet when seen in architectural isolation, each work in its own space—and not part of any survey—her project shines. Her endeavours thrill because of their morphological singularity. Only one at a time is best.

I say this because with these rectangular collages (shown initially with Jenny Todd in London, and later with Sue Crockford in Auckland and Rob Gardiner in Hamilton) there is a very appealing looseness that the semi-circles (as ‘containers’) can never ever achieve. The shaped stretcher works of course aren’t striving for that. They are focussing on the sensuous pleasures of formal structure, ecclesiastical space, controlled muscular reach, and usually, liquid light.

With the seven collages, you—and the artist herself it seems at the time—forget the self-consciousness generating edges. There is no sense of restrictive guidance (or cramming into) by a culturally ubiquitous shape. Instead there is an appealing wildness associated with unruly landscape. They have an energetically vibrating graphic quality; they are really drawings made with (often dribbling) paint. Even if they were on stretched linen and not paper that would be the case.

Three works in particular are dynamite, with (for me) especially satisfying compositions: Ashen Terraces; Torrent; and Arcanum. They feature descending or horizontally sweeping vectors (energised descriptive marks from different sized brushes) and subtly positioned (camouflaged or exposed bare) straight edges from the cut sections of glued-on painted paper. Lots of glowing transparent (even though it’s gouache) colour asserts its presence. Surrounded by plenty of air.

Very bodily, these gestural manifestations usually allude to watery natural vistas, their sense of mental abandonment and exhilarating spontaneity (through lines with fuzzy edges) occasionally countered by oblong or bladelike strips or coloured squares. These intermittent checks rein in the freneticism; crisp paper edges kept in the centre, away from the periphery; subtle snappy lines that stay hidden until you seek them out.

John Hurrell

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