Wednesday 12th June, 2019
Introduction to Lee Krasner – Living Colour
It was many years ago when I first discovered the artist Lee Krasner, I think I was studying on my BA in Fine art possibly in my second year. At the time I was heavily influenced by the works of Abstract Expressionist artists and in particular Jackson pollock, this was when I was first introduced to Krasner’s work as she was the wife to pollock. I remember reading an article which featured Pollock’s impressive large scaled paintings, it was his no fear attitude when working with materials which always excited me, combining elements of chance with a precision thoughtfulness technique. It was this technique orchestrated by Pollock (Known as ‘Action painting’) which is still recognized around the world today.
Although I respected and still respect Pollock’s work I was more interested in researching into artists who fell short of public fame and was less noticed, Lee Krasner and her work became the ideal artist for me to start exploring.
When I first heard about this exhibition arriving to London I knew I had to go and relive the excitement I first experienced all those years ago. Although this time I will see Krasner’s impressive masterpieces up front and in the flesh.
Embrace, 1956, Oil on Canvas
The exhibition was curated on two floors and you were firstly directed to the first floor which is where the exhibition began. The whole exhibition was incredible as it gave me a chance to fully understand the diversity of Krasner’s practice, however there were a few series of works which impacted on me more greatly. The first series works which I have termed the ‘Prophecy Series’ caught my attention, it was the technique Krasner used when working with the paint on the canvas, big dominating loops, fleshy like forms, lined with black with accents of pink made me think of a dislocated distorted human body. The works had beautiful aspects of colour with an added grotesque like form, these works instantly made me think of one of my other favourite artists Francis Bacon. This series began with the piece titled Prophecy before three other works: Birth, Embrace and Three in Two, all works were created during a time when Krasner was under considerable strain due to her relationship collapse with Jackson Pollock. The works are very dark and give a true insight into the struggles Krasner must have been facing. Krasner was once asked about her determination and focus to paint, Krasner responded by saying ‘Painting is not separate from life. It is one. It is like asking – do I want to live? My answer is yes – and I paint.’
Blue Level, 1955, Oil, Paper and Burlap collage on Canvas
The next work which caught my eye was Blue Level a work which Krasner produced out of spontaneity, a development which evolved from a despondent feeling. One day Krasner walked into her studio and tore all her drawings up it was this act of aggression which led to something exciting. The cut strewn shreds became the beginning of a series of collages, a mixed media enforced technique which resulted in works depicting the organic which was made from a subconscious action achieved from the artist herself. It is brilliant to know that Krasner firstly never knew she had created something which was greatly appreciated. These works hold a subtle sense of disorder incorporated within a well performed process.
Stop and Go, 1949 – 50, Oil and Enamel on panel
Stop and Go emerged from a series known as ‘Little Images’ which was produced in a make shift studio where Krasner had transformed her upstairs bedroom into a work space. Krasner was constructing vibrant abstractions which looked at introducing rhythm to the composition. Paint was layered with a palette knife and worked into with a stiff paintbrush. Stop and Go made me think of my works in particular my Contained Information works because I work with a similar process, uniting opposing colours together in order to achieve the best possible visual abstracted look. Although the paint I apply looks non – uniformed there has been a calculated action which derives from a Systematic Operation.