Beth Letain - Signal Hill | PACE
Beth Letain’s influences range from Giorgio Morandi to Agnes Martin, though her deliberately ultra-simple forms are more abstract than either, and with a far bolder use of colour. The colours of these big paintings, currently on show at PACE, are deep, bold and matte. Their surfaces, prepared by layers of homemade gesso, have a luxurious sheen.
My favourite was ‘Strong Winds’, its bold horizontality and almost hallucinatory depth was the most directly evocative of the exhibition’s title: ‘Signal Hill’ is the hill from which the first morse code was received.
It’s an unpretentious name for a momentous event. And Letain’s art is similarly bare and unadorned. The (excellent) show notes refer to the “infinity bands” of her paintings, the slashes of colour extending right to the edge of the frameless canvases. There’s the suggestion that the works we see only contain a fraction of the whole; that these colours will go on forever, remaining just as bold and strong.
Unusually, the window blinds at PACE are rolled up, bathing the space in hazy summer light. There’s a new side-door to the recently-opened Royal Academy extension that should also increase footfall - a nice compensation for the gallery entrance having been accessible through the building works for what seems like years.
The large room’s new found permeability matches the space, and possibilities, of Letain’s canvases.
Beth Letain: Signal Hill is at PACE (London). 28 June - 4 August 2018.