The other night I attended a quiet, understated opening featuring a series of watercolour work by Louise Fishman. This is her first solo show in the UK, which is odd as she is now in her 75th year and has over the decades built up a serious reputation not only as an abstract artist but a pioneer of Feminism in the States.
This body of work was created during her residency at the Emily Harvey Foundation in Venice, Italy. As a result, these gestural marks, twinkle with light and give an atmospheric luminosity, inspired by the sky, water and glass. Fishman is famed for her formal aesthetic working with grids and structures, inspired by Sol LeWitt, but her with the freedom of watercolour she creates a loose and fluid body of work, complete with interventions, including scratches, drips and erasures.
I sat down with her and spoke at length about her artistic background and influences. She was one of last of the great descendents of the Abstract Expressionists and cites Franz Kline, Wilem De Kooning and Joan Mitchell as important figures for her. She spoke freely about her sexuality and her impact on the Feminist movement.
Our most engaging part of the conversation was when we spoke about the series of work that came about from a visit to Auschwitz in 1988, as we are both Jewish we had natural affinity regarding this dark period of our shared history. The series produced from this life-changing trip included the ashes she found on the ground mixed with beeswax, incorporating into the paint an essence of these lost people.
I left the show, profoundly touched by this encounter with an important historical artist but also elated by the life affirming watercolours on show.
Words: Ben Austin Photo: Courtesy Nosco/Frameless Gallery
Louise Fishman at Nosco/Frameless Gallery Until 24 December