Agnes Martin, at Tate Modern... I was keen to visit this show, as Georgia O'Keeffe is a favourite painter of mine, and I'm fond of Outsider Art. Agnes Martin is not directly related to either, but went to the desert in New Mexico, built her own house and lived in solitude for a number of years. O'Keeffe also lived there for some time.
The first painting on display is a pastel linear piece using pencil lines and acrylic paint on canvas. It reminded me of a therapeutic client / brut artist, who regularly made stripe pieces with pencil crayons and pastel colours. This can help to create a feeling of safety and consistency, of order in a disorganised life.
In room two the works diverged into an array of different sized canvases, including an expressive use of oil paint. The geometric pastels continued throughout the show in various ways, but were less of a theme than room one implied. Further on in the exhibition it was striking to to read she was schizophrenic, which made sense to me in terms of the repetitive shapes. I am glad she was presented as a fine artist, not as an outsider artist, despite this reference and the apparent honesty with which it was made - sharing that her painting calmed her and provided an outlet. What a celebration, the curatorial team were not hiding the mental illness or classifying works in response to it. They could have described the work as a clever culmination of art historical references and genius incision into it, but they did not, and refreshingly shared that she was a great painter, making interesting work for her own reasons.
In a series of prints in room six, the hanging of the work impressed me less. This piece was apparently to do with emptying your mind and letting the purity of the compositions help you to know your true self, but double hanging left an eye level gap. I doubt the artist intended contemplation of the wooden frame edge whilst connecting with one's feelings.
Overall, it was a beautiful and thoughtful show, of warm, human, and organically geometric paintings.
Agnes Martin at Tate Modern until 11/10/2015
Below is a piece the client made, she created over 50 each with a different colour combination.