Tomma Abts’s work
Tomma Abts’s paintings are the result of a rigorous working method that pitches the rational against the intuitive. She works consistently to a format of 48 x 38 centimetres in acrylic and oil paint.
She uses no source material and begins with no preconceived idea of the final result. Instead, her paintings take shape through a gradual process of layering and accrual. As the internal logic of each composition unfolds forms are defined, buried and rediscovered until the painting becomes ‘congruent with itself’.
Abts describes the finished works as ‘a concentrate of the many paintings underneath’, each functioning as an autonomous object revealing the visible traces of its construction.
Abts creates a complex interplay between the painting’s physical surface and the form that it describes. Planes that appear to be located in the foreground also remain embedded within the structure of the painting itself; shapes are both overlapping and integrated. Abstract elements might hover on the edge of representation but are then undermined by an incongruous perspective or colour scheme.
While each work develops within its own parameters, hung together in the gallery one is aware of formal and tonal relationships between canvases, reflecting the way Abts works on many at once, allowing ideas to migrate from one to another. Her titles are derived from a dictionary of first names and the process of naming marks the work’s completion.