Landscapes Language Pulp Paintings by Dawn Diamantopoulos
Dawn Diamantopoulos's recent works made using colored paper pulp, the products of a recent artist's residency, present abstract landscape configurations that reflect a sophisticated use of the medium and a conceptual complexity delightful to ponder. Through discussion with fellow artists and arts professionals, she has narrowed down her overall output in this medium not necessarily to her favorites, but more to those pieces that cohere as a statement of her engagement with an exciting art making approach that both realized and directed her vision.
In creating these pieces, Diamantopoulos applied the pulp in a variety of ways, and those ways then resulted in the various textures and effects seen among the colors. Linear, looping strands were borne out of squirt bottles, while broader and less defined tonal passages speak to greater merging of wet pulps. Shapes exist on the verge of legibility or recognizability; like in so many of the artist's abstract landscapes, scene and haze, earth and atmosphere, are essentially connected until all that matters is the colorful scumble that constitutes the place, a place small or large, real or unreal. Color provides a cast so that one can both inhabit these realms and savor surface relationships.
This last notion dealing with in and on lies at the heart of this body of work. Artists may hear during their training or careers that the art lies in not only drawing with the stylus but also drawing with the paper, not only painting with the brush but also painting with the canvas. The artistic act lies in engaging both the medium and the receiving surface in a way left deliberately undefined or without further explanation to encourage and foster a creative response. In Diamantopoulos's case, the pigment and paper are one, resulting in a potent conceptual and perceptual blend of image, surface, content, and means of execution. Line is mass, pigment is paper, subject is object, all concepts joining in on the paradoxical games already in progress of the landscape being real, imagined, abstracted, nonobjective. The modern nature of these pieces is in their bracing engagement of the materials, as well as the visual and verbal puns as the objects transform their natures into seductive visual riddles.
Diamantopoulos explained that the current pieces arose from experimentations with words. The animated skeins of pulp as continuous lines connect to cursive calligraphy, and their visual busyness feels obsessive, urgent-- in working gesturally on and with the paper, the artist seems to strive to impart as well as define. These are works that say something, and what they say is forever beyond precise grasp and yet intuitively felt and understood. The language is not transparent, nor is the writing invisible.
In one piece in the exhibition are the words "love more." A key to the beauty of Diamantopoulos's work is seeing not only her lovely efforts, but also those themes important to her that are central to her endeavors in any medium. Words of encouragement, of spirit, coexist with landscapes of the memory, traces rescued from ordinary life to become adorned, treated. The more you love, the more you see.
Gregg Hertzlieb, Director/Curator Brauer Museum of Art, Valparaiso University