Mary Ramsden's New Icons | ABSTRAKT Group show
Frieze Magazine |


Mary Ramsden is part of Wentrup's group exhibition ABSTRAKT which is taking place from 30 April – 15 May 2021


A series of portraits made during lockdown channels its sitters from afar

(...) For a portrait artist, as for a shaman or a novelist, the art of making contact is a practical challenge – a working process. While creating her recent series of paintings of people she knows, or has known, British artist Mary Ramsden found that she was unconsciously embodying her friends and family by mimicking the way they move or inhabit a space. They weren’t with her: the series was conceived and executed through the pandemic, so she couldn’t work from life. Ramsden doesn’t think of herself as a portrait painter – making the pictures, she said, was a way of thinking about what it means to miss someone in the digital age, when communication is possible but never enough. The work was also a practical means of spending time ‘together’ while apart. But there was something stranger that entered the process, fitfully. From time to time, the experience became mystical. And so it makes a strange kind of sense that Ramsden’s pictures, created without their subjects’ physical presence, so obviously invite touch. The materials are grainy and textured – plastic, glitter, wood, corrugated card, paint handled in such a way that the hairs of the paintbrush remain imprinted on the works’ surfaces. Pieces of wood are splintered, with drill holes or irregular edges, and graphomorphic forms are burnt or scratched into them. Each object has an emphatically tactile presence. They exist to be touched as much as looked at, perhaps best experienced by fingertip with the eyes closed. (...)

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