Rebecca Beardmore’s latest body of work Persistence of Vision continues to explore the artist’s fascination with perception and ways of seeing and her characteristic unorthodox use of materials and processes.
How we see or read images is an ongoing focus for Rebecca Beardmore’s enigmatic and poetic art making. The act of seeing – not only what happens optically but the intellectual and psychological implications, are inspiration for a range of Rebecca Beardmore’s recent exhibitions exploring the phenomenon of seeing that include: Seeing Between, Seeing Words Reading Pictures, On Reflection and in_sight.
For Persistence of Vision the artist states: “I am looking to shift attention away from the subject depicted and more toward the engagement with image, both on and within the surface – as well as the material surface itself.“
Whatever the subject or genre – maybe architecture, maybe landscape, the subject is mere departure data for creation of an image through the accident and incident of materials and surface. The artist’s goal is an amorphous ‘painterly’ visual impression – not classifiable, not crystalline, undefined, fluid; invoking a transformed consciousness of environment and a charged ‘daydreaming’ sense of suspended time and memory.
Experimentation with unconventional materials characterizes Beardmore’s practice. For Persistence of Vision the artist has produced a series of images on paper as well as those imbedded in the surface of reflective shrink mirror fabric that is wrapped and stretched taught on wooden stretchers in the way of conventional canvases. Photography, along with different modes of printing, from flatbed to screen, are among the amalgam of techniques and tools for Beardmore’s multi media processing of works that are best described as ‘treatments’;
being as much about the mediums and surface.
The original or ‘departure’ image is photographed as it appears reflected onto a polished metal sheet for a kind of visual impression or photo-illusion, creating a lingering temporal quality that is mutable – changeable, variable, fluctuating, capricious.
It resonates somewhat as does an ‘after image’ where when the eye stops seeing, the image remains; the eye’s nerves continuing to convey the image after the initial image has departed – the visual
sensation still vibrating after the original stimulus has ceased.
The artist includes a series titled Gradients that are independent but companion works. The Gradient works present as abstracted vertical bars of colour – patterns that are soft-edged blurred bleeds of colour. They are transition and transitory images made as a response to the visual weight and tonality of the original departure images. Beardmore’s signature positional ‘spots’, screen-printed in gloss enamel, are applied onto the surfaces of both the paper and shrink mirror works.
This is a distinguishing device deployed by the artist to further ‘deny’ the dominance of specificity of subject and emphasize the materials and process of image making in her pursuit of visual ways of interpreting and manifesting vision. A further psychological and visual dimension is added to the shrink mirror works with the application of a barely legible silk- screened overlay of small, fine monochrome text detailing a face while in the act of looking at a view.
Her renderings are sublime, romantic, mysterious evocations enabled not only by her consummate mastery of the materials and techniques of artisanal printmaking but her adventurous and forensic mining and adaptation of the technology and resources beyond traditional printmaking.
Rebecca Beardmore is a past winner of Australia’s most prestigious print prize, The Fremantle Print Award and is a finalist again in 2016. Her works are held in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, international institutional collections including Guangdong Museum of Art, China, Rhode Island School of Art and Design, USA, University of Alberta, Canada and University of Texas Collection, USA.