Edda Renouf Artist Statement

Essential to my paintings and drawings is the revealing of an abstract structure and energy inherent to my materials, the linen canvas and cotton paper. In my paintings, after holding a stretched canvas up to the light, which allows me to see the movement of the weave, I am inspired to remove certain threads which in some works I also then reapply. I continue by priming the canvas and then apply several thin coats of acrylic paint. This is followed by a careful sanding of the surface that again makes visible the life within the linen material. In my drawings I incise lines with an etching point to remove particles of paper before applying sometimes several layers of chalk or oil pastel. Breaking away from the traditional approach to linen and paper, which are usually used as grounds on which to paint an image, my working process reveals and uncovers the life and abstract energy within the materials.

Important to my technique of thread removal and incised paper, which reveals the energy and structure of my materials is that this process brings about various juxtapositions basic to the life of the art works: as for example the positive versus the negative spaces in my paintings and drawings; the contrast between the geometry of the frames I use for my paintings and the organic flexibility of the linen fiber of the canvas; the difference between the crisp scraped lines in my drawings versus the uneven more organic incised lines; or the contrast between the well defined lines created by removed and applied threads in my paintings versus the aleatory, cloud-like areas of color that have been sanded. I have often defined the coming together of these juxtaposed contrasting qualities as analogous to the rational and irrational, that is, the Apollonian and Dionysian forces of life and existence.

Used in the titles of my works are several themes: the four natural elements; time; and that of sound and music. The linen canvas and paper originate from the flax and cotton plants, which depend on the four natural elements; also the acrylic paint and pastels originate from earth: the four elements thus are directly related to my material’s structure and thus became a recurrent theme in my work. For example, the abstract structures revealed to me are metaphors, signs that relate to air, water, earth and fire; the signs appear with the removing and reapplying of threads, which I often also symbolize with corresponding colors: greys in varying tones; cobalt and ultramarine blues; siennas; oxide red; oranges and ochres etc. The other important and recurrent themes are that of time and music or sound: my art works are a record of the days, weeks, months and seasons when they were created, and thus act as a journal of my working process; and the theme of music or sound, points to the idea of ‘making the invisible visible’, and of the hidden presence of wave structures in our universe.

Finally, I see the marks and signs revealed in my work by the removal of threads or incising of lines, as relating to the early archetypal marks and traces of many world cultures, such as in the engravings from the Paleolithic cave painters; the incised objects in wood or stone and painted textiles from pre-Columbian Mexican, and Native American and African cultures; or the signs on Taoist and Tantric steles. All this reflects the richness of the artistic collective unconscious, which is an endless source of inspiration for my work.

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