Louise P. Sloane:  A Geometric Abstract Painter of Color and Light

In the second quarter of the nineteenth century, J.M.W. Turner pushed the limits of using dramatic color. In 1839, a French chemist named Michel Eugene Chevreul published his treatise on the vibrant interaction of the complementary pairings of color, which include, red-green, orange-blue and yellow-violet. Monet rejoiced in the complementary colors’ tendency to reinforce one another, painting red poppies in green fields. It was in this vein that van Gogh, after painting The Night Cafe in Arles, explained to his brother Theo, "I tried to express the terrible passions of humanity by contrasts of red and green. "Georges Seurat evolved a system. An honorary founding father of Op Art, Seurat painted dots in colors he knew would dissolve, or 'optically mix' in the eyes of the beholder. The Fauves, and especially Matisse, took the next step, severing color's dependence upon nature. After World War II, the Abstract Expressionists liberated color once and for all from representation. Mark Rothko aspired to paint tragedy in brooding tones of purple. After ten intensive years of achievement, the works of Pollock, Rothko and de Kooning spoke for themselves.

Painters that came of age around 1960 were determined to go in an opposite direction. Some of these artists spoofed the new consumer culture, others ignored it. All of them responded to thearresting colors and hard edges of its graphic design. They accomplished this by employing all kinds of abstract forms and color contrasts that stimulated the partnership of eye and mind. Many artists experimented with one or more 'Op' techniques, as they came to be called, in exactly the same creative spirit that many twentieth-century painters and sculptors studied Cubism without a thought of becoming 'cubists'.  Louise P. Sloane joins the ranks of small but mighty group of great artists including Ellsworth Kelly, Piet Mondrian, Mark Rothko, Richard Anuszkiewicz, Anton Albers and Barnett Newman.Like these monumental artists before her, she has dedicated her life's work to exploring the limitless possibilities of a single theme; an insistence on color. Each work is infused with highly personal text that inspires and motivates her to keep growing and experimenting.

Louise P. Sloane’s paintings emanate from a long and rich tradition in art history. The visual language of her paintings embrace the legacy of reductive and minimalist ideologies while celebrating the beauty of color, and a human affinity for mark making. Sloane uses color straight-up, without mixing. The mixing takes place on the painting itself, optically, as one colorreacts to the other, a red against a green, say, or a blue against an orange. The colors are not always complementary.  The juxtapositions of color can act as a contrasting outline around a quadrant or square and give off a flash of light, a shimmer, where they meet. But each section is a complex sequence of hues from the ground up, reverberating with hidden shades, the topmost layer the sum of what lies beneath. The surface also holds Sloane’s signature extrusions (she’s a whiz with a pastry tube). The squiggles of text add an additional color note and level of signification. Painstakingly written and overwritten, Sloane’s inscribed text, deeply meaningful to her, is a form of private meditation. Turned into relief, it creates a raised pattern that is illegible when she is finished, painting the borders a contrasting color to accentuate the irregularity of the text’s profile and to energize the painting’s edges. She wants the response to be based on the text’s physicality and color, not its meaning.

From the beginning, Sloane has depended upon personal narratives and writings to help her get started, provide the pulse of the painting, and to “keep me going” but it is not necessary that the viewer knows the specifics in order to respond to the work. Sloane treats narrative more as process than content, the narrative ultimately becoming an ambience that pervades the formal, its presence and meaning to be intuited—or not, a situation Sloane prefers. Not quite done, she then goes back in with a zero brush as the last step, and very slowly, very carefully, adjusts the color, adding what will be read as highlights, as more luminosity. “Very obsessive,” she admits, “but as an artist, I’m driven by a vision that I need to realize.”

Gavin Spanierman

Spanierman Modern | 958 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10021

"YellowYellowBlue" 80 x 56 inches. Acrylic Pastes and Paints on Wood Panels.