Brent: Color scales, gray scales, drums, unwrapped columns, the feel of folds, all different measures of light that sometimes manifest as light ‘actually’, though all together register as interest in how things unfold, expose, and fold back – that draw attention to form while somewhat masquerading with it – Linda, what is the common thread that runs through your work?
Linda: Interesting that you refer to my work as folds, literal, or as a manner of speech—each way is interesting. For me everything I do leads back to light and space. What I am after is capturing a sense of space and how light naturally opens, informs, and suggests. When you concentrate on the one aspect [light] the other [space] becomes an irrevocable subject that needs attention. Each aspect involves the other, not altogether different from how we experience ‘real things’, or how nature informs. Actually the canvas itself stands in for a sort of space also. It’s a complex relation where you try to tie the two by engaging a process, sometimes ignoring one for the other. Looking for a reconciliation, accepting what is done, and further working through the given… in a manner. Eventually there exists a tension. The work, also, is as much about darkness as it is light.
At this point it’s probably quite important to mention that though my work may appear distant and concrete, or minimal, more or less the result of a mechanical process (especially when it’s photographed or digitally reproduced) -, this is not the case in reality! When it is reproduced the little irregularities in my work caused by hand and the under ground aren’t noticeable. And that’s a pity because it is a deliberate choice that they are seen. Human touch is allowed in my work, if not necessary. As I said: my work is about finding and combining opposites. This means that the tension between mechanical and handmade must also have its place, must be shown, to be felt and to have its indescribable effect.
Brent: Your process, the way you lay out a field, does this involve taping each area or are the color or registered divisions done by hand?
Linda: It’s both. What goes down before informs the next. I use tape. And then I go over that using a different sensibility. It may happen that I need to go back to the last physical impression again, using what is necessary, hand, tape: Each decision is informed by the previous, using a sense for what is wanted for the next.
Brent: Then starting at the beginning: A canvas works with light, space or spaces, and has a physical presence – what do you do with that?
Linda: I have this book in which I draw and describe my ideas. I have many of them. These books, together with the paintings I’ve already made, inspire me to a new work. So when I start a new painting I know more or less how I want it to be. However the outcome is never certain because the working process has a life of its own that interferes and surprises in the act. The paintings are always made on a wooden panel (which I also call canvas, so don’t be confused), and are a deliberate choice because I like the structure of the wood. And I don’t have to deal with these irritating folded corners. When I’m painting the canvas lays horizontal. It takes several layers to get what I want (make it how I want). And because I use oil paint most of the time, I can work simultaneous on several different images. When the paint is still wet I hang them on the wall to see and decide what steps I need to take next. Because of the way I work, there is always some kind of logic continuation to it. One emerges from the other and points to the next. You may have noticed that the sides of the canvas are very important. I consider them a part of the space the canvas offers. I involve the sides into the frontal composition, also using the light and color shades that spill off onto the wall.
Brent: Interesting that you talk about the physicality and its calibration. I understand how you make use of the edges of the structure. I can see it in some of your installation shots. I’m virtually blind here, as I’m not physically there. So you are going to have to take me through some of your pieces, if that’s OK? #191, first of all, has a title that suggests the unemotional. It’s a number – not a place, not a hint from where it came from (except maybe a turn of a page in your book.) And definitely there is not the poetic. Though the way you talk about your process seems to be very much geared to an emotion, a physical response, poetic in the sense that you are very much aware of the changeableness and intricacies of how you or a viewer inhabits the work. In #191 you have four horizontal bands of gray, scales. They feel fairly even in paint quality. The idea is that they go left to right, or the other way, to create an expanse: They are bars that run darkest at the bottom and soften as they rise. What goes on between this looks to be more bars though running vertical. It doesn’t read as a layer that runs exactly the same underneath. Instead it registers that each-between-the-solid-horizontal-calibrated-bars is an independent activity. And it’s tuned depending on… the feel that you are wanting? How it works is that for me there is a subtle spatial reading, not just with the underneath but how the whole thing is working. Also the diagonal is introduced. And on the right side the gray horizontal bars read almost adrift from the support. In photograph this communicates the way you are talking, ‘light’, ‘dark’ and ‘thing’ – space.
Linda: Right! I don’t use titles. Paintings are numbered for administrative purposes. I want the observer to be free of suggestions. No more, no less… though probably less as a poet in this case. The images come together through choices… of what can happen in-between, while I’m waiting for the paint to dry, or just looking.
The diagonal that you pick upon in this work (though exists in some others also) is a new element. I’m developing that one step further, and it’s incorporated or emphasized in paintings I’m working on right now. I’ve sent you a snapshot.
Brent: Quite erotic.
Linda: Funny. OK, I think I know what you mean.
Brent: Can we talk about the light, and color?
Linda: The light… It’s a Dutch thing, I assume. I grew up in a little countryside village between the Dutch rivers – I had an outside life. And because of the rapid weather changes it was an inevitable interest – something I felt ever drawn to. When I began to draw – I was still at art school – I made very dark charcoal drawings. I tried to make them as dark as possible, because I discovered this made the light stronger. The images appeared to explode out from a darkness.
Much later, you could say, the specifics of working the sides of the paintings, along with the frontal graphic appearance, were related to those early drawings—the fascination with light and how that works in odd and sometimes contradictory ways. Color came much later. Earlier on it was something that I just didn’t feel the need to use. Recently I’ve started bringing it in to push against and to create a new tension within the other aspects of an image.
Brent: You also employ light, as in ‘light works’ that move right off the canvas.
Linda: The light-works came out of a framework of painting and make use of the surroundings. The measurements are given by the actual space and bring in a complete new element to work with (and this is very exciting). It was the light in the work itself that allowed me to break free from the boundaries of the canvas and use the actual space as boundary. In that way I replace the framework and change the starting point of the work. The process is more or less the same but now it is the light [and shade] that replaces the paint or suggestion
Brent: The ‘measurements’, what are they based on? These are perceptual decisions. Or are they proportional and use math?
Linda: The measurements are based on the space the work is in; they are perceptual and proportional decisions more than mathematical ones. The light object is made especially for the space, so you can’t move or see it free from the physical constituents. In a temporary setting the installation is disassembled after the show and will not be rebuild in that form again. In the image I sent you the starting point was this open box in a U form of prefabricated not very high walls under an open very dark ceiling. I decided to accentuate that form by making one very small light-line exactly in the middle of one of the walls. To get this I placed a new wall in front of existing one and made it look like the light-line was coming out from the wall. Staying with the original U-form I made the following interventions: At the left wall I placed a warm white light, I also left out the upper wall there (above the light line) so the light could shine up freely. At the middle wall I clustered the light into a small line and used a basic white color. On the right wall I left out the lower part and placed a cold white colorless line. My goal with these interventions was to give the viewer a different perception of the surrounding space. The different tones and fall of light brought that about.
Brent: Do the ‘light works’ replace the paintings?
Linda: First and foremost I am a painter. That is the base from where my work evolves. 3-dimensional work or installations in public areas will always be a challenge, but my main focus is painting.