Denise Green: Resonating
April 18–June 6, 1999
Spanning twenty-five years of this important Australian painter’s career, Denise Green: Resonating debuts April 18, 1999 at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center. Tracing the evolution of Green’s work from monochromatic canvases of the early 1970s to recent explorations of black and white, the exhibition includes 18 paintings and 52 works on paper, including works borrowed from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Resonating emphasizes Green’s complex understanding of painting that is based on a combination of Aboriginal and Modern Western approaches.
Born in Melbourne, Australia, Denise Green left for Europe at the age of seventeen. She first received public recognition in New York when her richly-colored canvases holding single shapes were prominently featured in the New Image Painting exhibition at the Whitney Museum in 1968 with works by artists such as Susan Rothenberg and Joe Zucker. In these early paintings Green introduced a vocabulary of simple forms that continue to be central to her work today.
Throughout Resonating, viewers will note Green’s various uses of a fan shape: in early works such as For All & None (1978), the fan acts as an essential symbol, suggestive of deeper spiritual meaning; in Taxes (1993), one of her later black and white paintings, the fan shape becomes a central formal element that unifies the composition; in She Dreams (1996), the fan shapes create a complex formal variation which co-exists with other images.
Both Denise Green’s paintings and her works on paper are fundamentally concerned with questions of identity. She notes, “The inspiration for my work comes not only from personal and psychological sources but from diverse cultural sources such as Modern Western art and Aboriginal culture.” A third generation Australian, Green says that Aboriginal paintings were some of the first “real” artworks she saw as a child, whereas Western artworks were accessible only through reproductions. Going beyond the practice of artists such as Picasso or Pollock, who utilized the formal aspects of non-Western artworks in their painting, Green has extensively studied the thought and methodology behind Aboriginal art-making. Drawing on these studies, Green developed what she calls a metonymic method of working. She explains, “Metonymic thinking implies for me the fusion of an inner spiritual and an outer material world. When an artist creates metonymically the artwork is seamless.” She continues, “My use of paint is seamless with a state of mind.” At the same time, Green’s connection to formal, Modernist painting is equally important in her work. Rich, flat fields of color fill many of her canvases, reflecting the influence of two of Green’s early teachers, Mark Rothko and Robert Motherwell.
Denise Green: Resonating was originated by the Arizona State University Art Museum and by the Museum’s director, Marilyn Zeitlin. Its presentation in New York is coordinated by P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center. Following its debut at P.S.1, Resonating will travel to the Arizona State University Art Museum in Tempe and then to the Lyman Allyn Art Museum in New London, Connecticut. Another version of the exhibition is in the planning stage for Europe, and a second travelling retrospective will take place in Australia in April 2001. A concurrent exhibition of works on paper will be on view at the Geelong Art Gallery in Australia from June 7 through July 11, 1999.
Denise Green: Resonating is accompanied by a hardcover monograph, Bridging Oceans, Traversing Cultures: The Art of Denise Green with an essay by Katrina Rumely, published by Art & Australia Press.
Support for Denise Green: Resonating and its tour has come from a grant made to the artist by The Cultural Affairs Bureau of the Embassy of Australia in Washington D. C. Additional funding has come from Robin Bade and Michael Parkin, Tom and Liz Buxton, Sir James and Lady Sheila Cruthers, Dr. Wilford C. Grover and Kerry Stokes, George and Joyce Wein, Marvin and Alice Kosmin, as well as the Westpac Banking Corporation.