For decades Edda Renouf (US, b. 1943, MX) has been inspired by the structure, surface and texture of her materials : linen canvas and Arches cotton paper. Carefully inspecting the weave of her stretched canvas by holding it up to the light of her studio window, the fine characteristics of its warp and weft lead her to discover her personal painting technique of removing threads and sanding. For over five decades she has been creating post-minimalistic paintings and drawings that reveal the essential energy of the linen canvas and cotton paper. Using the same attentiveness to her paper, the drawings are also made on an altered support, as Renouf incises the surface with an etching pen. This process creates burrs that bring out light and a play of dark-light areas, thereby accentuating color. Through these unique techniques she documents time, making signs that become symbols of communication. To uncover and reveal the basic qualities of the canvas and paper is an essential key to Renouf whose practice has always been meditative and based on nature, the seasons and life’s rhythms, as can be discerned from the titles she gives to her works.
Having studied dance and music in addition to art and art history, a harmony of proportions inherent to her linear compositions is central to her practice. Presenting seven paintings and ten works on paper spanning the past four decades, one can see the gentle evolution and continued respect to abstract structure, materiality and color. Painting in monochrome hues on primed and sanded canvas, the various tones of blue (cobalt, cerulean and grey-blue) evoke a deep sense of quiet, the calm surface of a lake or the sky.
The intense plumbrown and orange drawing is rich and warm, reminding us of autumn and nature. Her palette is concentrated on a few colors but these are mostly soft and penetrating, due to a careful selection of the linen and paper, the sanding, and the application of paint or pastel with fine workmanship that bring out a rich finish and complex pigmentation to the surface.
Renouf’s works are contemplative due to the colors, lines, and incisions. The latter are fine and straight, performed with a steady hand that reveals the color of the natural fibers in the paper. In some paintings, when removing a thread from the canvas, the artist reapplies the thread, which is slightly wavy and adds a certain vibration and dynamic to the work. A different hue appears reminding us that everything has a place. Small changes can have a large impact and are reminiscent of the difference between theory and practice, the natural and the synthetic.
Included in the exhibition are four unusual paintings where Renouf actually stretched the canvas on the diagonal. With this unique experimental approach, the diagonal line becomes essential for the composition, giving the works a more unstable and gently dramatic quality. These are in contrast to those with a stable (traditional) composition based on the horizontal - vertical grid of the linen. Other works introduce the curve and spiral. Juxtaposed in one show space there is a lively energy that emanates from them.