New YorkPtolemy Mann – Thresholds II
WOVEN TEXTILE WORKS AND ABSTRACT PAINTINGS
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Ptolemy Mann practices a unique approach to hand-dyed and woven artworks that have become the basis for a modern-day Bauhaus philosophy of art-making underpinned with intelligent color theory. Her time-consuming and unique approach has evolved over a twenty-five-year period. Exquisite dynamics of color move across their fine surface, creating a painterly sweep. She is heavily influenced by Abstract Expressionism and architecture and The term ‘Chromatic Minimalism’ has been applied to her work.
Mann makes large-scale, emotional works that express a deep sense of craftsmanship and precision through an abstract narrative. She has completed many site-specific art installations and has exhibited worldwide. She regularly lectures throughout the UK and abroad, writes for the magazine Selvedge, curates, and has received three grants from the Arts Council of England. Findlay Galleries is pleased to represent Ptolemy Mann exclusively throughout the USA.
“Since 1992, I have been exploring abstraction through hand dyed and woven works stretched, canvas like, over a frame. Monumental fields of colour undulating through a vast spectrum that, at first glance, appear painted. In many ways these works are ‘paintings’ but as a weaver I am able to control the moment that pigment is applied to the cloth. Unlike a traditional painter, I am able to apply the pigment before the cloth is constructed rather than applying the colour afterwards, to an industrially woven, bought canvas. The restrictive nature of the technique has meant I can only make work along the straight line the loom allows, and the process is extraordinarily slow and methodical. The taught surface maintained during construction is continued by stretching the finished cloth to create an exquisite and refined surface.
For the first time these woven artworks are being shown in conjunction with a new body of work consisting of paintings on paper and canvas. After twenty five years of thinking about painting I have been able to finally visualise my ideas through paint as opposed to dye.
I have often felt that the act of dyeing thread is deeply related to the act of painting. When I’m in the dye lab it involves an almost spontaneous gestural movement; working quickly to saturate the white thread with colour and, much like watercolour painting, once the colour is on the thread, its permanent. The aim is to capture the same immediacy and energy generated in the dye lab as intuitive, colour-saturated paintings, while exploring the relationship between transparency and opacity. Inevitably the language of warp and weft penetrates this work too: bands of vertical and horizontal colour intersect whilst suspended above floating colourfields. To go a step further, I use Arches paper (French, hand pressed watercolour paper) which is made from 100% cotton fiber. One could argue that these watercolour paintings are also inherently ‘textile’. For a long time, I’ve been interested in two specific things: accidental colour and unconscious colour. It transpires that these two ideas; when filtered through the act of painting, reveal a surprising vivacity and capture a dynamic colourful moment. I have been generating these new paintings whenever (and wherever) I can, using the act of painting as a personal meditative process. In complete contrast to the exquisite slowness of the woven artworks these pieces are large scale punches of spontaneous, emotional colour.
The synergy between the woven works and the paintings is striking – despite being opposites in their making process they share a surprising energy and connect to each other completely. Both techniques project light through colour and are steeped with intuitive colour theory investigations. It is the interaction between colours that makes this work sing; alongside complex tonality and saturation.”
– Ptolemy Mann, 2022
“Ptolemy Mann is an artist whose primary medium is pigment-dyed, hand-woven, stretched cloth. She is interested in the relationships between colours and their affective potential. Through the slow, meticulous process of weaving warp and weft threads on a loom, Mann mimics the spontaneous gesture of paint on paper or canvas. Taking her lead from mid-twentieth century abstraction in which the illusion of depth was rejected in favour of exploring the surface, Mann’s woven pieces collapse support and surface into one, reminding us of the primarily textile nature of the canvas and the repressed history of the textile within modernism. For her, painting is an expression of the material world. Optical effects and natural phenomena inspire her to explore the possibilities of her chosen materials: dye, thread, paper, paint and time. Through their rapid and/or laborious application she creates a multi-layered meditation on light and colour.”
– Ann Coxon, Curator
When Did we Become so Afraid of Beauty
“These paintings are an ongoing series of works created on black watercolour paper that explore our relationship to darkness and beauty. Their dark ground creates an extraordinary feeling of depth and colour. Three dimensional explosions of intuitive mark making. In October 2013 I went around the corner from my studio in London to see the Paul Klee show at the Tate Modern. I remember noticing that several of his paintings appeared to be painted on top of a black ground and the notion of what happens to a colour when placed over black stayed with me. On discovering this extraordinary, velvety black paper, designed specifically for watercolour paint in 2020, I began using my knowledge of colour theory to test the interaction of darkness against water and pigment. 100% cotton fibers seeped in black overlayed with chalky, gouache acrylic pigment transpire to creative a unique sensuality – a shameless and dark kind of chromatic beauty.”
Ptolemy Mann, May 2022
Ptolemy Mann | Gammel Dok Painting (Fuchsia Centre) | Watercolor and acrylic gouache on Stonehenge paper | 30 x 20 in. | FG© 140735