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  • Howard Rutkowski

Terri Rolland at the Santa Fe Collective


Terri Rolland, Five Protections, 2015, acrylic and clay paint, 12 x 20 x ¾”

To achieve understanding it is necessary to not see many things, but to look hard at what you do see.

Giorgio Morandi

Painter Terri Rolland has cited the reclusive, obsessive artist from the last century, Giorgio Morandi, as one that holds some sway over her own working process. Certainly the Italian artist’s endless monochrome paintings of unglazed stoneware pottery – clay painted in clay, as it were – is not merely an interest in color, form and composition, but truly a Zen approach to the making of images. It is a meditative process and one that Rolland has successfully and invitingly adopted.

Rolland’s small-format paintings, combined in groups or flying solo, remind one of ideograms or glyphs that derive from a collective consciousness with origins from every continent and culture on this planet. Yes, art history abounds, but Rolland works with an holistic approach to both method and material:

“I work with elemental and honed images: drawn outlines of squares and blocks sink into the clay and call for more layers until the right final drawing is accepted. The repeated images become a group, or cluster, as the panels are assembled and the painting comes together. These are groups of basic elements and quantities, humble monuments to continuity, standing together resolutely. They have a right to be there, things are fair. What I am looking for is not refinement, but a felt sense of rawness and informality - and sometimes mischief. I want to represent things barely visible or valued, but completely present and essential.”

When one looks at Morandi, one can imagine him influencing Philip Guston, Robert Mangold or Robert Ryman. It is unknown that any of them had any exposure to Morandi, but living in Italy Cy Twombly would have certainly come across his work. All of these artists possessed the desire to explore gestural repetition, the reduction of imagery to signs or symbols and a keen interest in materials.

Perhaps the best comparison, should one be necessary, is to Paul Klee, who understood visual language long before many others. Abstraction, reduction and the human spirit provide a common means of communication without any narrative. Rolland’s simple and humble works strike those chords with delicacy and meaning.

Rolland is definitely channeling all of that exploration and energy into something that is at once formal, conceptual and embracing of art history, but possesses a deep personal spirituality. These are not abstract exercises in materials and composition, but true talismans of experience and translation.

Terri Rolland’s series of new paintings were most recently on view at the Santa Fe Collective, May 14-June 8, 2016 http://www.santafecollective.com/terri-rolland/. Her works on paper are currently on view at Schema Projects in Brooklyn until June 19.

Howard Rutkowski

Santa Fe

Posted, 2016 June 13

All Artwork: by artist Terri Rolland © 2015 Terri Rolland. All rights reserved.

Terri Rolland, Five Vigors, 2015, Acrylic and clay paint, 12 x 18 x ¾”

Terri Rolland, Red Center, 2015, Acrylic and clay paint, 18 x 6 x ¾”

Terri Rolland, Three Ways, 2015, acrylic and clay paint, 18 x 6 x ¾”

Terri Rolland, Three Energies, 2015, Acrylic and clay paint, 15 x 5 x ¾”

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