In celebration of the Bangert Retrospective, a review of Colette’s work by Gary Noland:
KCAC Forum Magazine Summer 1983
reviewed by Gary Noland
Only shallow observers of the Midwestern landscape dismiss it as banal and without diversity. Similarly the casual viewer will also determine Collette Bangert’s show at the Lawrence Gallery to merely reiterate the prosaic forms, shapes and colors available in the land between the Mississippi Rive and the Rocky Mountains.
Bangert goes beyond those natural barriers in her representations of the Midwestern prairie. She uses the land as a tool to organize color, line and structure; identifying in the process the poetic content and spirit of nature.
The rhythmic movement of earlier work (e.g. Land Lace Series) that focused on the effect of wind on the grasses has given way to a type of painting that records natural events on a grander scale: daily and seasonal change or decay and rebirth. As the artist has seemingly stepped back to make more general observations, her ability to simultaneously zoom in on the infinite detail in the land (through a nearly automatic form of handwriting) adds a variety to the work.
The Sun Moves West III (1983) is a large painting that refers to a sunset. The warm yellows, pinks and reds are confined to the upper right hand corner. Cool blues, greens, violets and greys dominate the rest of the surface.
The painting is divided horizontally by aggressive V-shapes that knife across the surface. Even though she applied the gestural strokes of color first, Bangert relies on colored pencils to intensify the acrylic wash and fine India-ink lines to structure and identify the color.
As the artist edges the colored areas with crisp black line, the “negative” shapes of the unpainted paper take on added significance—in effect increasing the surface activity by doubling the detail.
September (1983) is a painting about flux, change and renewal. Cool greens and yellow-greens dominate the surface. The abundant detail offers no single vantage point or place to rest the eye as is the case in nature. For example blades of grass or clouds inevitable lead the eye on to other blades of grass or clouds.
A disciplined use of color, kept very close in terms of value, unites and orders the surface. Again Bangert uses the colored pencil to strengthen the acrylic wash and the pen to direct its flow. The India-ink lines objectify, define and visually pull each color away from the surface. Yet the conformity of the value and color composition brings the colored shapes back to the surface—allowing the eye to move on to adjacent areas of the painting.
Diagonals on the right clash near the center, in a mesh of line and color, with a grid-like form on the left-hand side of the painting, symbolizing the cyclical patterns of nature.
Bangert combines color and line, painting and drawing to produce a body of work that is related as a whole, even though each painting has a personality of its own. In addition, the artist has the ability to objectify color, movement and line—allowing the specifics of landscape to have an equal footing with the essence of nature.