David Krut Projects is pleased to present TOMORROW by Gail Behrmann, opening at 142 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood Johannesburg on 24 April 2021. An exhibition of abstract oil paintings and an artist book. Gail has participated in numerous group shows at DKP, most recently Another Kind of Blue for the 2020 KKNK Festival, and the Turbine Art Fair 2020. This will be her first solo exhibition since 2010.
Gail’s rich layers of oil paint derive their meaning from Tang poets interpreted by Witter Bynner and Kiang Kang-Hu.
“I have a love affair with oil paint, the feel, the smell, the texture it forms. Oil painting is in itself, a sensual experience. My painting is gestural, and by nature I am an easel painter, I need a specific space, which is preferably square, on a stretched and primed canvas, apart from a favoured choice, it is also a discipline…I associate with the South African landscape, the scope, the light, the colour, the paintings are not a narrative but a visual and I hope an emotional experience.” – Gail Behrmann.
Tang poem extracted from THE JADE MOUNTAIN, A CHINESE ANTHOLOGY, Being Three Hundred Poems of the Tang Dynasty 618-906. Translated by Witter Bynner from the Texts of Kiang Kang-Hu
“They say that wildgeese, flying southward,
Here turn back, this very month….
Shall my own southward journey
Ever be retraced, I wonder?
…The river is pausing at ebb-tide,
And the woods are thick with clinging mist —
But tomorrow morning, over the mountain,
Dawn will be white with the plum-trees of home.”
INSCRIBED ON THE WALL OF AN INN
NORTH OF DAYU MOUNTAIN
Artist statement for TOMORROW
“My paintings and drawing have moved from landscape and representational, to abstract. Although my film work is politically, historically and socially involved, the painting are without such comment.
One of the greatest painters of the world, it makes no difference whether a work naturalistic or abstract, every visual expression follows the same fundamental laws.
– Hans Hofmann
I have a love affair with oil paint, the feel, the smell, the texture it forms. Oil painting is in itself, a sensual experience. My painting is gestural, and by nature I am and easel painter, I need a specific space, which is preferably square, on a stretched and primed canvas, apart from a favoured choice, it is also a discipline. Abstract painting must have an object, it must have a subject. The size of the canvas is not important, the scale within the square is. I associate with the South African landscape, the scope, the light, the colour, the paintings are not a narrative but a visual and I hope an emotional experience. It is in my studio I feel a greater sense of spiritualism than anywhere else.
Although poetry and music have always been primarily engaged in the making of a painting, the current paintings are derived from the Tang poets interpreted by Witter Bynner and Kiang Kang-Hu. While the paint engages the surface, the paintings themselves are considered before they begin, although there is no specific narrative or composition, there has to be structure. I have to have a beginning and an end, once I find a particular like in a poem, the painting will take shape in my head and I start at the top of the canvas and finish at the bottom, what happens with the marks and textures within the space is something I think about before applying, it can take years to finish a painting and I work on at least six at a time. I recall Abstract Expressionist, Barnett Newman, once said: Any art worthy of its name, should address life, man, nature, death and tragedy. If this is true, the Tang poets definitely provide that for me.
The margins in my paintings are not arbitrary and large or small I grapple with them, when I look back at my early abstract work, there were no margins, I think they were more successful as paintings. Small paintings are more of a challenge, the larger canvas is fully immersive, my whole body is involved. The smaller paintings are derivative of the large paintings and I title them not from poems, but numerically.
I draw regularly from life, be it flowers or the human body, I think it is important to keep one’s eye focused. Unfortunately, due to physical constraints I no longer draw on an easel, but a desk. The very nature of my drawings has changed and in a series of book titles Beyond the River and Into the Trees (from the title of a Hemingway novel; Across the river and into the trees) the drawings are an exploration of positive and negative space and organic in structure.
When I first met my teacher Bill Ainslie and saw his Namib series, my first thought was what the hell am I going to paint and how dare I even think of it? All I did was draw, it was Bill who instilled in me the practice of seeing, structure and space, an application which is still considered in my paintings. “
Find out more in this episode of the David Krut Podcast | Gail Behrmann ‘TOMORROW’ Listening Time 33 minutes
Take a look at the David Krut Portal to see the online viewing room for TOMORROW