In the beginning was the mark

by Corinna Lotz, reblogged from
F. Blane, Untitled 1

Frances Aviva Blane has been included in 60 out of 2,700 applicants as an exhibiting artist in this year’s John Moores Painting Prize, the UK’s best-known painting competition. The exhibition, a key strand of the Liverpool Biennial, will be at the Walker Art Gallery from July to November 2018.

For Blane, it’s been an annus mirabilis.  She has featured in a solo show Two Faces: paintings/heads at the Germany Embassy in London, as well as two group shows, Human, also at the Embassy, and No Man is an Island in Bonn.

In her recent works on paper, and in common with many contemporaries, Blane subverts the notion of what drawings can be. They are not preparations for other things. They are complex, layered artworks, laws unto themselves, each one with a different mood and structure.  Yet, at the same time, they retain that quality of spontaneity and the accidental.

The fourteen drawings that appear in her new book, MORE, are all called – unrevealingly! – Untitled.  Many are bold; all are striking images; each one has its own rhythm.

Untitled 1, for example, captures the energy of the artist’s hand in motion, as red and black lines slash across the sumptuous Fabriano paper, sometimes penetrating the surface. The cherry red pastel is slashed into loops and splatters. It seems to erupt from its thickly-worked nexus of red and black.

F. Blane, Untited 4

By way of contrast, Untitled 4, made with pencil, acrylic, charcoal on hand-woven natural fibre cloth (khadi) is extremely delicate. The lines are lightly traced. Some appear as accidental smudges. A more solid, darker mark has a faint orange glow, as though something is burning. Shadows loop and dribble. In close-up the weave of the paper catches and pixellates the charcoal creating yet new textures and patterns. Somehow, there is a wistfulness and heartache in these minimal marks...

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