It is impossible to talk about Agnes Martin's work without mentioning the words order, purity, silence or transcendence. She paints with the idea of perfection in mind and explains that it is the source of absolute beauty and happiness. In one of her writings she says: “When I think of art, I think of beauty. Beauty is the mystery of life. It is not in the eyes, but in the mind. In our minds there is an awareness of perfection.” She states that art cannot be perfect because perfection is immaterial and art is part of the real world, which is material. But art can arouse a transcendental experience of awareness of beauty in the spectator. “Composition is an absolute mystery,” Martin wrote. “It is dictated by the mind. The artist tries to find certain sounds or lines which are acceptable to the mind and in the end an acceptable arrangement of them.” In geometry she found a way of reaching an awareness of perfection and chose the grid to give shape to her work. She has explored it and recreated it in a host of variations: variations in colour, tone and luminosity, variations in the scale of the strips, variations in the brushstrokes. From the eighties she reduced part of the structure of the grid to concentrate almost exclusively on the horizontal divisions, drawing fine lines with graphite, or wide strips subtly painted in pale colours. The strips cover the full width of her square canvases, creating an almost atmospheric effect punctuated only by the linear separations. The two works in the Collection, both done in 1997, belong to a series composed of strips of pastel colour floating on a white background. The relation between the colours, between the delicate, subtle variations in tonality, gives the paintings an intense and no less surprising luminosity. The lines of graphite which separate the strips, apparently fragile and about to dissolve, guide the emotion of the painting. They are works that call for silence, point out spaces of light and create intervals of quietness. Works that require a pondered gaze if we are to appreciate the poetics of her composition; in the end, to be able to capture the idea of perfection in its full subtlety.
Works that may interest you