/cter/c knot. or clasp
This painting is part of a series, slit subjects, that the artist first created in 2014 and then revisited in-depth in 2018. These works are made of lushly dyed swaths of wool fabric cut apart and pieced back together—with soft bleed abutting sharp edge. In these furtively disruptive works, pools of saturated color that evoke the work of artists Morris Louis or Helen Frankenthaler get sliced and severed, yielding a kind of visual static. This break in the continuity of pigmentation is characteristic of the entire color field. Forms are severed and then continue anew after being displaced several inches over. Each composition is rigorously serial, as the cut panels are systematically arranged in repetitive patterns that nevertheless produce unique rhythms of oscillation between color field and ground. Primarily multi-panel, these works emerge in related pairs and triads; the groupings themselves reveal off-kilter transitions between the paintings as much as they illuminate harmonies between them. This decision reiterates the artist’s left-of-center approach to abstract painting.
The term “slit subject” stems from Monique Wittig’s The Lesbian Body. In this work, the French word “je,” which means "I" in English, is bisected into "j/e"—a sign which ironically designates the impossibility of representing a coherent feminine subjectivity within language. Wittig's notion of the feminine as existing across and between the split in subjectivity introduced by language inspired the way Alison’s paintings establish a kind of disjointed conversation with the language of abstraction. The artist's use of dye complicates the idea of a painterly surface, as there is no difference between recto and verso. These works only begin to resemble conventional paintings when stretched. The use of wool as both painterly surface and as the “covering” of the stretcher keeps the body in the fore. Once a material that warmed a three-dimensional mammalian body, wool is now repurposed as a two-dimensional object to be viewed as a painting. Playful critiquing the dichotomy between art and craft, these works are a disjunction of function.
② Represented by:
Wilder Alison’s paintings draw from both feminist theory and the concept of a split subjectivity to establish a disjointed conversation with the language of abstraction. The artist’s work frequently features sliced and severed pools of saturated color, yielding a kind of visual static—breaking the continuity of pigmentation characteristics of the color field. Alison’s process also includes a playful critique of the dichotomy between art and craft through the artist’s embrace of materials such as dyed wool.