An exploration into the fundamental elements of art by Joanne Dale and Stefanie Gundlach.
This exhibition was on display in our Alcove gallery until September 2020. Click the images below to see the work in full.
Reviewed by Mike Ingle
What makes a good work of art? There’s no simple answer and we all have our favourites, but certain artistic elements often play a recurring role: colour, line, tone, shape, space, texture. Starting on 12th March, and running for four weeks, the Qube in Oswestry is showcasing two highly talented local artists who have each focussed on different elements and then run with them to produce work of exceptional quality.
Joanne Dale, lecturer in Visual Communication at Loughborough, manipulates surface texture with incredible virtuosity. Each piece is a collage of found and discarded objects which successive waves of painting and sanding take to astonishing conclusions. Joanne also worked for design companies for several years and feels that the variety of materials she had to deal with now helps her to select the different components for her artwork. Composition is the constituent of which she is most consciously aware. “Pretty well everything else is intuitive. The real skill is in the revealing”, she said, referring to the different layers in each piece when colour, tone, line and shape gradually emerge to produce extraordinarily powerful but restrained and understated images.
Working in mixed media, Joanne utilises everything and anything that works, from posters to plywood and plastic to pencil, but has one particular aversion, “I hate starting from a flat white background”. Joanne Dale
Stefanie Gundlach also had a career in also graphic design, working at one point with Warner Bros on the Harry Potter films, but she now enjoys life as an independent artist. “Commercial briefs can be very restricting”, said Stefanie. “Working independently is incredibly liberating. Sometimes just doodling will result in something I can use”. She acknowledges, however, that her commercial work did serve as a kind of apprenticeship. “Having to find absolutely precise colour matches and harmonies for commercial printing across a variety of media probably helped to sharpen my perception,” she added, which may explain her particular focus on the elements of colour, shape and line. Stefanie’s exhibition pieces are all water colours with that intense luminosity characteristic of the medium.
All the works of both artists at the Qube exhibition are abstracts. Without points of reference to the visual world abstract work can be demanding and difficult to assess. It is, for example, easier to decide whether a “realistic” portrait captures the appearance and personality of a person when you have seen or have some knowledge of the subject. However, French artist René Magritte argued – at considerable length – that assessing art in this way is treacherous. Referring to his famously perfect painting of an apple, Ceci n’est pas une pomme (This is not an apple), he might well have commented “If you think this is an apple, try eating it.” Magritte’s argument leads directly to the notion that a “good” work of art – including non-representational abstract art – is something that draws you in, holds your gaze, reveals things you never noticed at first glance, something which makes you look over your shoulder as you walk away and then draws you back again. The paintings exhibited at the Qube by Joanne Dale and Stefanie Gundlach do all that. Oswestry is incredibly lucky to have two such talented artists.
Words by Mike Ingle