Louise Gresswell’s paintings are little archaeological treasures. Each rough rectangle is stitched together from multiple parts: board sutured with staples and glue, gaps filled in with cardboard or canvas. They’re all texture: matte and sand-like here; glossy, brush-struck oil there. Here the brush moved slow across the surface; there it paused at the edge, excess piling up to form a ridge. Down here, the brush was held at right angles to the board, and dabbed, poked, stabbed; over there it moved freely, swiping with abandon. Gresswell’s works reveal histories of cutting, reassembling, coating, moving freely, pausing, taking time.
All artwork is an index of the artist’s action: each piece is inevitably a record of the gestures and processes of its creation. In Gresswell’s case, however, this indexing is front and centre. Her paintings are intense and compelling because so much movement, history and thought is contained in such small, dense, layered objects.
The catalogue for Gresswell’s previous solo show mentioned investigating personal histories, and I ask Gresswell what she has been thinking about while making these new works. She tells me she does spend some time reflecting, reliving angst and difficult times, and that the process of cutting and reassembling is cathartic. Knowing what has gone into them, the potency of Gresswell’s paintings, with their scratches, fractures and scars, starts to deepen. As old paintings are cut apart and reassembled to find their right place, a parallel, interior process has occurred. Things find their place in imperfection, and irregularities—even gaps clear through to the wall behind—are treated with reverence and care. Or, as Leonard Cohen so eloquently put it, “There is a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in”.
Please note that Gallery 9 is open. With public safety in mind, physical distancing, limits to the number of people in the gallery and hygiene measures will be in place.