Mary Ramsden

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Mary Ramsden
Courtesy of the artist and Pilar Corrias Gallery
Mary Ramsden, Utitled (show of hands), 2012

Not yet graduated from the Royal Academy, Mary Ramsden has already pretty much mastered her painterly approach: a kind of elegant, fairly sensuous restraint. 'Untitled (white short sleeve)', a relatively hectic example, looks something like a close-up of a lime-green geometric glyph on a green-grey background. The title doesn't really compute, so one keeps looking: noting areas at the edges where the paint has been rubbed away, the directional sweep of the lime.

Ramsden recalibrates the viewer's reaction to the painting via minimalism: very much a stratagem, but one well accomplished here. 'Untitled (show of hands)' presents a valley-like form in rubbed, pinky-green paint under a dense aquamarine 'sky': the substratum of detail here involves ghosts of the stretcher bars where the paint has been rubbed, and the sides of the canvas painted a deep lime. The colours recall those of a sun-faded '70s photo, and indeed Ramsden puts a lot of weight on very specific colours. One small painting, a soft-edged monochrome, is the shade of sunburned flesh; another, 'Untitled (cord trouser leg)' swipes thick smears of white across pink underpainting.

Whether the titles intend some kind of Howard Hodgkin-esque evocation of memory through paint or just aim for cognitive dissonance, Ramsden regularly ends up with something satisfyingly dense where there appeared, at first blush, to be almost nothing at all.


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