Deborah Salt

Profile of 2016 Future Great artist, selected by Mary Corse

By Mary Corse

Vertical, 2015, 244x15x6cm, acrylic on canvas. Photo: Ed Glendinning. Courtesy the artist

For me a work enters the realm of art when it makes me feel and know the reality of my human state in its essence – an abstract, perceptual experience beyond thought. I am interested in a painting that is about itself. Not political, not a cartoon, nothing interesting, just a pure perceptual experience of the moment, the experience before the idea, not the limited finite thinking but rather an alignment with the infinite, the bigger picture. 

Salt’s paintings do this. The whole object is the painting – the surface of the canvas is painted in white, occasionally black, while the sides are painted in 12-to-20 monochromatic layers of brush strokes of a different, more intense colour. Rectangular in shape, of varying dimensions, each painting is hung at an angle, with its lower left corner directly beneath its upper right corner. Each painting has its own inner equilibrium by maintaining an abstract vertical to the floor. The diagonal placement of Salt’s paintings is always in counterpoint to the right-angles of the walls on which they are placed, addressing successfully an issue of a painting creating its own autonomous existence in relation to itself, to architecture and to three dimensions that has long challenged artists – John McCracken's leaning sculptures are another example.

The sides of Salt’s canvases generate a ‘glow’ of colour that radiates onto the surrounding wall. By using natural light to dissolve the edges, Salt changes the relationship between the white central surface and the surrounding layers of monochromatic paint in a way that poses a further extension of a similar effect seen in the 1960s Edge Paintings of San Francisco-born Sam Francis (1923–1994).

Both the oblique placement of Salt's work and the mutable ‘glowing’ edges that softly permeate and dissolve into the surrounding space create a conscious (direct) meditative experience of the present for the viewer. 

This article was first published in the January & February 2016 issue of ArtReview.