Mary Ramsden
Scroll, 2014

oil on panel
30 x 24 inches



Mary Ramsden’s paintings track a ceaseless, ever-supple reckoning with her medium: its materiality and histories, its complex deals with figuration and abstraction, the points where it yields, the points where it resists. Drawing on ways of seeing that are both long-established and acutely contemporary (not least those inaugurated by new technology), there is an archaeological quality to the way she lays down, and excavates, strata of marks and pigments, buried deposits of time and space. With their audacious play of textures, surface and scale, these are paintings that insist on their own physicality, the impossibility of their reduction to mere image. Rather, like us, they belong to the world of objects, a realm of densities and depths.

Ramsden has spoken of painting as ‘thinking with the hand’, and her works bear the traces of a restless, embodied cognition. Uncertainty abides, along with persistent reaching for (hard-won) self-actualization. The intellectual and the sensory are not so much translated as transfused into form and colour. A work’s limit conditions are defined, then tested, and sometimes extravagantly breached. Where depiction is in evidence in these paintings, it has a fugitive quality, as if Ramsden’s marks were not quite willing to be wholly subsumed into the pictorial, preferring to retain a measure of autonomy as an arrangement of pigment on a support. This is a glitch that is also a feature: a way of capturing and sequencing those concrete abstractions, time and space.

The artist lives and works in London and North Yorkshire, where she was born.


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