532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel, NY, November 13 – December 20, 2014
When describing Diana Copperwhite’s work Colm Toibin wrote:
“Her work is about painting first and foremost; [these] references merely serve a purpose. Thus digital images which freeze and fragment an original image fascinate her, but such images in themselves are not enough, they provide a way into the painting. It is their visuality which inspires rather than any precise sense of a blurred or fragmented reality. Because she physically likes making paintings, everything is subservient to what paint will achieve.”
Copperwhite makes paintings that move fluidly between representation and abstraction. Photographs, montage and assemblage all aid the process and become ancillary works that pin down fleeting thoughts, glimpses and reactions to a media saturated age. Her interests and sources are eclectic and wide ranging, from social media to philosophical debate to art historical references. Yet, as Toibin points out, her paintings are no more about the image than they are about the process of painting itself. Her work is phenomenological in that momentarily emotional responses override the need to capture reality. Something has piqued her interest and from that initial interest she thinks in colour, in tone, and texture, in setting herself a visual problem to which there is no single definitive solution. Her palette is composed of murky undertones punctuated by bright neon rifts. The fluidity and expressiveness of the painting gives little hint of the rigorous and formal abstract principles applied to the making.
Strangers in a Room is an almost purely abstract painting, a composition of bold stripes and gestural marks. The eye struggles and fails to distinguish the strangers of the title, but the space retains something room-like, an echo of representation caught just beneath the vibrant surface. This duality is apparent in all the work, the teasing through of an idea, of where it has come from and where it may lead. The recurring motif of screens appears in Tropic of Capricorn Tropic of Cancer. Two squares like televisions float brightly facing each other. It is no accident that the title references astrology, lines of latitude, and the writer Henry Miller. A multi-media world describing the interconnectedness of knowledge. In Copperwhite’s work even the most arbitrary act demands balance, the carefully thought out response. The source may seem randomly chosen but the intellectual process, the making of a painting is not.
Diana Copperwhite studied Fine Art Painting at Limerick School of Art and Design and the National College of Art and Design, Dublin. She completed an MFA at Winchester School of Art, Barcelona in 2000. Diana is a tutor at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin. Her work is in the collection of the Irish Museum of Modern Art and the Arts Council of Ireland, and also in collections in the United States, Europe and Australia.
The writer Colm Toibin is currently Irene and Sidney B. Silverman Professor of Humanities at Columbia University. He is an IMPAC Dublin Literary Award prizewinner, and has appeared on the Booker shortlist, most recently in 2013 for his play the Testament of Mary.