Rebecca Salter
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Selected reviews and articles
into the light of things Yale Center for British Art
3 Feb - 1 May 2011
What does it mean, in the 21st century, for a Western artist to borrow heavily from aesthetic traditions of the East? It’s a question that hovers around the career retrospective “Rebecca Salter: Into the Light of Things” at the Yale Center for British Art and the pendant show “Rebecca Salter and Japan” at the Yale University Art Gallery.
Ms. Salter is a British artist who spent six years, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, in Kyoto, Japan, working first in ceramics before switching to two dimensions. Her canvases and works on paper — many objects here combine the two mediums — draw upon centuries-old traditions in ceramics, as well as Japanese calligraphy and woodblock prints. They also sync up, however, with Western abstraction, monochrome painting and midcentury Minimalism.

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Anna Mozynska Catalogue Introduction Beardsmore Gallery, London
Nov - Dec 2006
Rebecca Salter's recent work conveys as ever a quietness and repose that provides welcome respite to what she has expressively referred to as our 'digitally-rich and time-poor culture'. In the muted colour cadences and detailed surfaces there is encouragement to linger, absorb and to ponder difference. New materials (the use of aluminium as a support) and new techniques (involving the partial but deliberate rubbing out of the painted surface) are brought to bear creating subtle shifts and new departures from earlier practice. In essence however, the main shift in this body of work lies in its abstracted view of nature or of an emotion stemming from it, which is reflected upon later.

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Nicholas Fox Weber Catalogue Introduction Howard Scott Gallery New York
"It was spring. One morning Cosimo saw the air vibrating with a sound he had never heard, a buzz growing at times almost into a roar, and a curtain of what looked like hail, which instead of falling was moving in a horizontal direction and turning and twisting slowly around, but following a kind of denser column. It was a great mass of bees; and around was greenery and flowers and sun."

That description is from Italo Calvinos's magnificent The Baron in the Trees, his tale of an eighteenth-century Italian aristocrat who escapes his indoor world and flees to a " thick and impenetrable" wood, living in the treetops, viewing the world from a sea of "thick greenery." ...

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Charlotte Mullins Catalogue Introduction Hirschl Contemporay Art, London
To see a world in a grain of sand
And a Heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And Eternity in an hour

From William Blake Auguries of Innocence

Rebecca Salter's paintings are paradoxes. They appear tranquil, yet are full of movement; they seem monochrome but are made up of myriad colours; they have delicate surfaces woven in skeins of acrylic and ink yet your eye plunges through into unfathomable depths. They appear empty, but rarely are paintings so full. ...

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Catalogue Introduction Jill George Gallery, London by Anna Moszynska
August 2000
'The bamboo-shadows move over the stone steps
as if to sweep them, but no dust is stirred;
The moon is reflected deep in the pool, but the
Water shows no trace of its penetration' (Zendo poem)

There is an oriental quality to Rebecca Salter's paintings, which as in the case of a Japanese poem, invites quiet contemplation. What at first appears almost empty (the canvas expunged of external references) is actually surprisingly full. Closely observed, the surfaces reveal a wealth of incident. A morass of intricate lines, invisible to the camera, incise and texture the surface, not unlike the raked rills of gravel in a Zen garden. Sequences of drips, suggesting the traced patterns left by the trajectory of a shower...

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Illusory Images of Universal Order by Andrew Lambirth
Howard Scott M-13 Gallery, New York, 1999 catalogue introduction
There is a more pronounced architectural mood to these new paintings by Rebecca Salter than anything yet to have appeared in her work. It may well be that previous pictures have aspired to the condition of architecture, 'frozen music' as Schelling put it, but this group has attained a new monumentality without dispensing with the potential for movement so crucial to Salter's aims. Somehow what we see depicted...

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Paintings, drawings and prints at the Jill George Gallery, London
1998 catalogue introduction by Norbert Lynton
A few years ago Rebecca Salter sent a painting to Liverpool to win a place in the exhibition and perhaps a prize in the John Moores Liverpool competition. It was unwrapped, looked at by the jury, rejected and re-wrapped. Someone wrote 'Blank Canvas' on the package. Salter's paintings are not blank canvases. They are densely worked over many hours, layer over layer...

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Review of exhibition at the M-13 Gallery, New York by Johnson
New York Times, October 17,1997
The works of the English painter Rebecca Salter emit a soothing, meditative hum. Over neat grids of glued-on rectangles, Ms Salter works up dense but subtle fields of mark-making, creating a feeling of airy but quiet flux. Each picture is a diptych, which gives it an iconic presence and the suggestion of some kind of cosmic import.
What the Wild Bees Know by Andrew Lambirth
Royal Academy Magazine, August 1996
The buzz is out about Rebecca Salter. Actually it is more of a low steady hum but all the more reassuring for being constant. Like the noise from a productive hive, one is at once reminded that bees were judged by the ancients to be disseminators of knowledge. Salter (born 1955) is an artist of the utmost integrity and distinction. Long popular in Japan and America, she is yet to be widely acclaimed in this country. Her new show at Jill George should go a long way to remedy previous neglect, for beside new subtly-modulated...

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Paintings and works on paper at Jill George Gallery, London
1996 catalogue introduction by Andrew Lambirth
In her new work Rebecca Salter has slipped 'the quiet anchor of the grid' freeing her work for a sea-change. The one inch squares have disappeared, as has the covert reference to landscape, but the exceptional poise remains. Salter has created a species of non-referential art to convey purely visual experience. Yet these paintings, drawings and prints are by no means mechanical or inhuman. They are not implacably geometric or minimal. They have by association an underlying organic identity, tinged with metaphysics, which makes them very attractive...

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Meditations on Silence by Sister Wendy Beckett
Dorling Kindersely 1995
Silence is a paradox, intensely 'there' and, with equal intensity, 'not there'. The passivity of silence is hard to explain, since in one respect it is intensely active. We hold ourselves in a condition of surrender. We choose not to initiate, nor to cooperate with our mental processes. Yet from this passivity arises creativity. This mysterious liberation from all commonplace worldly demands is exemplified in Rebecca Salter's abstractions, which have been compared to gazing at a waterfall. Salter seems as if to have painted silence itself: the work is both alive and moving, and yet still, so that the eye wanders, absorbed and yet patternless, through and among the shapes before us. There is nothing to say, nothing even to experience in any words that sound impressive, yet the looking never wearies. This is a rough image, in its very imagelessness, of the bliss of silence.