Edda Renouf (US, b. 1943, MX) has been for decades 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 colour. 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 colour. 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 colours 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 colours, lines, and incisions. The latter are fine and straight, performed with a steady hand that reveals the colour of the natural fibres 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.
Paintings and Drawings 1978–2018 is Edda Renouf's first solo exhibition in Switzerland since 1994 and the first with the gallery.
Edda Renouf holds an M.F.A. degree from Columbia University and was a recipient of the 1990 Pollock Krasner Foundation Grant. She and her husband, composer Alain Middleton, have spent their lives living and working between Paris and the greater New York area for extended periods of time. They have travelled throughout India, Mexico and Europe. Her works are in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago; Australian National Gallery, Canberra; Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris; Centre Pompidou, Paris; British Museum, London; Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York; Dallas Museum of Art, Texas; High Museum of Art, Georgia; Kunstmuseum Winterthur; Louisiana Museum, Humlebaek, Denmark; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery, of Art, Washington D.C.; Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, Munich; Tel Aviv Museum, Israel; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Whitney Museum of American Art to name a few as well as private collections throughout the United States and Europe. Her work was collected in depth by Dorothy and Herbert Vogel. A monograph was published by Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe on the occasion of her solo retrospective exhibition in 1997.
Press release courtesy Anne Mosseri-Marlio Galerie.