From Three Lines - By Corinna Lotz

September 01 2003

From Three Lines

By Corinna Lotz

Elegant, spare and dynamic – perhaps these three words best sum up the articulated minimalism of Calinescu’s recent work. Only a few marks – but see how they move in and out of each other, how they define and probe new spaces we didn’t even know could exist!

The artist has created a new vocabulary of forms on paper, constructing a visual grammar that flows into a song line of phrases.

There is a progression, a logic of marks in motion, for example, as three lines are drawn in charcoal on a finely woven natural linen. Each one reaches out or shrinks, morphing into a new variation, clasping arms with another, growing out of its original context, and finally taking the eye beyond the constraints of canvas or board.

Smokey greys, mauves and whites, translucent jades, rust brown maroons focus attention on the luxury of the materials, the refined touch, and the subtleties of the moving line.

We experience the artist as choreographer as the eye and mind are captivated and drawn in. It’s like watching trapeze artists in the Big Top, or the Olympic high jump as an athlete attempts a Fosbury flop, just skimming along and over a loosely-poised bar.

In some, the pentimenti of earlier ideas are just visible below the surface of the paint, hinting at the fine tuning which leads to the final image.

Calinescu’s preparatory process is crucial. The surface has to be just right to allow each mark its maximum impact. As in Taoist-Zen Chinese landscape painting, the blank space becomes effective only through contrast with the vitality of the artist’s brushwork.

To achieve the necessary tension means making many adjustments, though sometimes the first touch achieves the right result. But the immediacy of sensation is preserved through the pared-down nature of the image.

There is no glorying in the substance of paint. Instead, we are attracted into fields created by the dance of line and the activation of space, the contrasting properties of thin/thick, straight/curved, closed/open.

There are shades here of British and international abstract artists who have advanced spatial abstraction and the expressive powers of drawing, including Basil Beattie, Linda Karshan and Frances Blane. But with this latest series, Calinescu has opened an exciting new territory that is hers alone.