Arresting display of abstract paintings
This article is from 2010.
Inverleith House really is a special place. An 18th century mansion reserved entirely for the display of art, its beautifully proportioned light-filled rooms enjoy unmatched views of rolling lawns and botanicals. The works that are exhibited within its walls benefit from the sense of pause and distance that the space produces. The work of one of the most singular American painters of the postwar period, Joan Mitchell, finds great synthesis here.
Large, thick impasto strokes colour Mitchell’s canvases with incredible vibrancy. Animated by varying gradations in weight and light, her soaring greens and broad pools of yellow are mixed with more urgent drips and strokes – insistent marks of each particular painterly passage. These landscapes mark a relationship with nature without attempting to reproduce it, a tenet made all the more explicit by this incredibly sympathetic hang.
Comprising works made throughout the artist’s career from 1958-1992, this spare yet considered selection of paintings and pastels evince the artist’s European influence as well as the support of abstract expressionists de Kooning and Kline. A figure annexed from the canon, the artist’s works are enjoying a late resurgence of interest and her unrivalled continuation of the abstract expressionist idiom is represented here with two late pastels from 1992. Provoking neither a reading nor even a wonder at what they may be, these works on paper simply imprint a presence and stand sentry for Mitchell’s fine and significant practice.
Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden, 248 2849, until 3 Oct (not Mon), free.