Georgia Russell: Time and Tide

exhibition at Galerie Karsten Greve in Paris, France, until 30 December 2016.

October 2016

Scottish artist Georgia Russell has drawn inspiration from the flowing, rhythmic patterns of the waves for her exhibition at Galerie Karsten Greve in Paris. Named after the English expression "Time and tide wait for no man" it brings together vividly painted, abstract landscapes made on meticulously lacerated canvases. The three-dimensional paintings, which are sculptural and volumetric, are more ambitious in scale than Russell's earlier works. The show sees Russell pushing herself more with painting and taking on greater scope, and the results are surprisingly uplifting.

The “joyful and sensorial” aspect comes from a desire to seek release from our difficult political era, Russell conveyed during a talk with German art historian Heinz Peter Schwerfel. The themes, however, come from happy childhood days in a village near the town of Elgin. “I used to go to the beach in Scotland and listen to the sound of the sea – that feeling of being alone in nature was a moment of pure existence,” she says. “When we walked along the hills, our faces would be burning but everything around was magnificent. I wanted to show how small we are in front of a large landscape, that it's something bigger than us.”

Russell, 42, moved to Paris in 2000 after her gaining her Master's in Printmaking from the Royal College of Art in London. Since 2012, she has been based in Méru, an hour north of Paris. “Even in my videos [as an art student], I was attracted to catching movement,” explains Russell, whose lacerating techniques derive from engraving.

Whilst in Paris, Russell strolled around the bouquinistes, second-hand bookstores on the Left Bank. When the title of a book, such as Virginia Woolf's 'The Waves' caught her attention, Russell would purchase it. Back in her studio, she would fan open the book, then begin slicing and cutting the individual pages with a scalpel in order to metamorphose it into a tangled-up sculpture. Her approach to canvases developed from this.

“It always surprised me that canvases [in the history of art], apart from those of Lucio Fontana, were flat,” Russell says. “I thought, 'Why can't we enter inside?' Then there's another facade behind that reveals itself. When I cut the canvas, it's to liberate it and push it elsewhere.”

Russell's larger paintings are actually composed of four facades as they have two layers, one in front of the other, both sides of which are painted. The voluptuous layering of the fine strips gives a sense of optical vibration, which has been compared to Bridget Riley, whilst creating interplays of light and space. Yet the visual proximity to weaving relates to Sheila Hicks' practice of using the weft as a framework for translating landscapes into colour.

The exhibition reveals Russell to be breaking down forms of artistic expression whilst confidently exploring the medium of painting to stunning, contemplative effect.

Georgia Russell, Escarpement, 2016, Acrylic on canvas (cut), 350 x 400 x 10 cm
Georgia Russell, Highground, 2016, Acrylic on canvas (cut), 300 x 350 x 15 cm
Georgia Russell, Écume II, 2016, Acrylic on canvas (cut), plexi 190 x 140 x 16 cm
Georgia Russell, Écume, 2016, Acrylic on canvas (cut), Plexi 190 x 140 x 16 cm
Georgia Russell, Dawn, 2016, 190 x 140 x 16 cm / 74 3/4 x 55 x 6 1/4 in Acrylique sur toile découpée, plexiglas / acrylic on cut canvas, plexiglas © Georgia Russell. Courtesy Galerie Karsten Greve Köln, Paris, St Moritz
Georgia Russell, Precipitation I, 2016. 78 x 108 x 12cm / 30 3/4 x 42 1/2 x 4 3/4 in. Acrylique sur toile découpée, plexiglas / acrylic on cut canvas, plexiglas © Georgia Russell. Courtesy Galerie Karsten Greve Köln, Paris, St Moritz
Georgia Russell, Spore, 2016. 55 x 75 x 12cm / 21 1/2 x 29 1/2 x 4 3/4 in. Acrylique sur toile découpée, plexiglas / acrylic on cut canvas, plexiglas © Georgia Russell. Courtesy Galerie Karsten Greve Köln, Paris, St Moritz