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R.H. QUAYTMAN (B. 1961)
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R.H. QUAYTMAN (B. 1961)

Chapter 5: New Age

Details
R.H. QUAYTMAN (B. 1961)
Chapter 5: New Age
signed, titled and dated ‘R.H. Quaytman, New Age, Chapter 5, 2005/2009’ (on the reverse)
silkscreen ink and oil on wood
32 3/8 x 52 3/8in. (82.2 x 133cm.)
Executed in 2005-2009
Provenance
Vilma Gold, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2010.
Special notice

VAT rate of 20% is payable on hammer price and buyer's premium

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Katharine Arnold
Katharine Arnold

Lot Essay

‘I was always painting on wood, since the beginning. I never liked a surface with bounce. I also wanted the picture plane to have a very precise edge. With canvas, the edge is foundationally disconnected to the support. The problem, since the very beginning, upon leaving art school, was how to reinvent some rules, how to continue with abstraction but also introduce perspective. This led me to the next problem: how to paint a painting that was not founded on its bounded oneness but contingent upon different structures, whether they be architectural, optical, historical, or biographical’ (R.H. Quaytman, quoted in Museo Magazine, 2010, http://www.museomagazine.com/#R-H-QUAYTMAN [accessed 15 September 2014]).

In Chapter 5: New Age, R.H. Quaytman presents an optical illusion, a technical feat that dazzles and morphs with the movement of the viewer’s eye. Sharp lines in midnight blue seem to dance and radiate in pulsing bands from a central point interrupted by a thick diagonal line upon the plywood panel. With its mesmerising effect, the work makes more than a passing reference to the languages of Op Art and Constructivism. With works held in major permanent collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York and Tate, London, R.H. Quaytman holds a strong position on the map of contemporary art. Beginning in 2001, her series of Chapters marks her arrival into the artistic canon, with her exhibition at the 2010 Whitney Biennial bringing her long-term conceptual project to a wider audience. The artist organizes her paintings into chronological chapters, bound by a unifying theme. Each single artwork performs as a ‘word’, which Quaytman aligns with the other pieces in the series to create a ‘sentence’. Quaytman further expands this idea by curating spaces in which full chapters are displayed, enabling varying narrative elements to interact with each other. Each painting is contextualized by what precedes it, but also stands alone as an absorbing work of art on a visual and technical level.

Quaytman’s poetic, geometric forms were strongly infuenced by the Polish artist Wladyslaw Strzemin´ ski, whose work explored theories of vision. ‘Strzeminski’s interest, in the ’30s, in opticality and the afterimage inspired me’, Quaytman explains. ‘Unlike ’60s Op, my pattern paintings do not convey a future of freedom and fun, but call attention to vision itself’ (R. H. Quaytman, quoted in Art in America, June 2010, http://www.artinamericamagazine.com/newsfeatures/magazine/rh-quaytman/print/ [accessed 15 September 2014]). Exploring these axioms, Quaytman’s picture planes vibrate with spectacular optical effect. Describing her singular vision and practice, Quaytman explains, ‘I was always painting on wood, since the beginning. I never liked a surface with bounce. I also wanted the picture plane to have a very precise edge. With canvas, the edge is foundationally disconnected to the support. The problem, since the very beginning, upon leaving art school, was how to reinvent some rules, how to continue with abstraction but also introduce perspective. This led me to the next problem: how to paint a painting that was not founded on its bounded oneness but contingent upon different structures, whether they be architectural, optical, historical, or biographical’ (R.H. Quaytman, quoted in Museo Magazine, 2010, http://www.museomagazine.com/#R-H-QUAYTMAN [accessed 15 September 2014]). Quaytman’s works are activated when viewed, creating a critical relationship between the picture plane and the onlooker.

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