Georgia Russell | The beauty of repetition
Parisian Gallery Karsten Greve are presenting an intriguing exhibition to cap off the year. We’re talking about Georgia Russell, a young Scottish artist living in France whose main working tool is a scalpel. Far from surgical sterility, the artist uses this unusual artistic instrument to “fight” with her materials — typically canvases, but sometimes books, which she carefully works and takes apart, revealing new, poetic universes.
Entering the gallery, one is taken aback by the majesty of Russell’s monumental works. Hanging from the walls, these panel canvases lure visitors in, revealing the immaculate precision of the artist’s repetitive cuts and are presented with an unfolding universe of land and seascapes imagined by Russell. Works such as Highground refer back to the age-old tradition of Chinese landscape painting, whose symbolism evokes Taoist theories of the universe.
Highground, 300 x 350 x 15 cm.
The landscapes unveil themselves gradually, emerging from the intricate layers of deep, precise cuts that pierce the surface of the canvas: one cut too many would easily break this fragile balance, in which the minute nuances of light and shadow play a central role. Without this carefully elaborated play on light, Russell’s works would lose their dynamic sense of movement. The exhibition’s title “Time and Tide” evokes both terrestrial and marine forces. The intricacy of Russell’s horizontal cuts, enmeshed in a seaweed-like mass, captures the myriad light reflections modulating the surface of the water — symbolizing the unconscious. The waves depicted in these works are those of the landscapes of Russell’s childhood, which she spent beside the North Sea in Elgin, Scotland. Based in France since 2012, these works form part of Russell’s ongoing research into spatial representation, which always begins from the repetitive gesture of cutting through her canvases. “Everything I’ve experienced in Scotland, but also in Méru (France) where my studio is, informs my artistic vision,” explains the artist. The visual stimuli that inform Russell’s work are vital to her creative process, in which anything can be subjected to artistic experimentation: focusing upon materials and colors and the dynamism they are able to generate.
Rivulet II (2016), 78 x 108 x 12 cm.
Where as an artist such as Sheila Hicks focuses on creating a sense of solidity through her knotted, interlacing textiles, Georgia Russell’s cut canvases rely on emptiness — on what is missing. It is precisely this “lack” in which Russell’s composition takes shape. Emptiness and wholeness — the two polar but complementary opposites of Taoist philosophy — are the elements which underpin Russell’s creative process.
Georgia Russell, « Time and Tide »
Until January 7th
Images : Courtesy Galerie Karsten Greve, Paris, St Moritz. Photos : Gilles Mazzufferi