Mali Morris selects Untitled, 1959, by Judith Lauand, oil on canvas, 33 x 24 cm
The invitation to take part in Modern Mirror has introduced me to the life and work of Judith Lauand. I had missed the exhibition of her abstract works on paper from the 1950s (Stephen Freidman, London, 2013) but remember reading a review online by a painter friend, Emyr Williams. I feel honoured to be showing now alongside this pioneer, born in Brazil 93 years ago, and I’m grateful to the curators, Emily Austin, Emma Cousin and Rebecca Glover, for the opportunity to get to know more about her. I have selected some of my own works on paper that might relate in form and process to Lauand’s painting on loan to the show, because of the contrasts of blackness and brightness, and the figure/ground shifts that happen through the act of removing paint, revealing colour beneath the darks. I’m interested too in our differences. I don’t think of the forms I arrive at as geometry, and I don’t feel my work relates to the Constructivist or Concretist traditions. I’m preoccupied, amongst other things, with the volatility of pictorial space, how strategy and improvisation together create language. And how colour can construct a luminous and dynamic world that we enter whenever we contemplate a painting, whatever its given subject.
What is that instant flash of response and involvement when we see a work by someone we are not familiar with, even when it seems not really close to our own? It’s like reading something that is immediately gripping, or hearing a song that we know will come to haunt us. Recognition cuts through time, culture, history and knowledge, and the feeling it generates keeps optimism alive.