Milford Galleries, Dunedin
Milford Galleries, Dunedin
Review: WWW. odt.co.nz/entertainment/arts/284103/art-seen
''Vanitas'', Lorraine Rastorfer (Milford Galleries) Lorraine Rastorfer has for several years been exploring the nature of the painted surface with her large-scale abstracts, many of which use the concept of the gouging of a still-wet top coat which has been overlaid on a base of a different colour.
In her latest exhibition, ''Vanitas'', Rastorfer has carried this concept one logical step further than in much of her previous work. Where formerly many of Rastorfer's paintings have played with repeated or near-repeated patterns, creating shifting lines of apparent motion (and owing more than a little to the works of such artists as Bridget Riley), in her latest work, uniformity of pattern has largely disappeared, replaced by more gestural marking or the deliberate creation of an all-encompassing individual motif.
This method, which is seen in such works as the exhibition's dramatic titular painting, creates a seemingly organic group of related patterns, giving almost the appearance of a frozen image of a flock of birds in flight. In other works, such as Valence and Glance, the lines of scraped colour produce moire flowers, the lines shifting and contorting into alien botany.
The effect is hypnotic, as the eye follows the interweaving and overlaid interplay of surface paint across the still, revealed background.
Vanitas Milford Galleries Catalogue for Exhibition 23 Dec - 8 Dec 2013
Vanitas continues Lorraine Rastorfer’s exploration of the nature of painting, the contradictions inherent in the painted surface and the role of serendipity in the creation of her works. The title of the show links her practice to Northern European paintings in the 16th and 17th centuries, where ‘vanitas’ was used to emphasise the fleeting nature of earthly existence.
The vagaries of transience and chance have occupied Rastorfer for a number of years and she uses painterly gesture combined with ‘visual incidents’ (1) to create works that appear to capture a single moment in time. Along with the careful layering of paint and pigment, Rastorfer embraces unintentional occurrences that arise from intrinsic variables in her materials. In Glance, spontaneous variances in width, tone and form lend the swirls a sense of organic growth as well as emphasising surface movement and energy. Ribbons of red and gold seem caught mid-dance and this intricate web has a life of its own that the artist has managed to freeze momentarily.
Drawing on the history of abstraction, Rastorfer challenges the flatness of the painted surface and the materials she uses. Her layered mark-making creates depth where there is none and movement of a static medium on a fixed plane. Vanitas (2012) reveals a textured void in which the colour itself is embodied and coils through space. The dense blue strata in Pursuit (2013) invite the eye to look through convoluted waves and loops to an imagined background, and (apparently) random spots of light float on the ‘surface’ of the painting, reinforcing the illusion of a non-existent three-dimensionality.
Each painting in Vanitas displays an elegant unity of rhythm, form and tone that at once pleases the eye and invites contemplation of the artist’s concepts. Illustrating the paradox of a continual yet unmoving flux, the complexity of Lorraine Rastorfer’s paintings allows the works to be seen anew over and again.
1. Lorraine Rastorfer, Artist’s statement, October 2013
Milford Gallery catalogue, click here