26 November 2014 – 18 January 2015
South Galleries, Bermondsey
For this exhibition, Lou distilled her exploration of glass beads into abstract, monochromatic and duo-coloured ‘canvases’ that explore the emotive potential of pure colour and the beauty of imperfection.
Lou’s process is demanding but, although slow and arduous, results in works that are both meditative and sublime. In 2005 she travelled to Durban, South Africa to initiate an art project with Zulu bead-workers which, starting with only 12 women from the surrounding townships of KwaZulu Natal, grew to include over 25 artisans. Lou’s commitment to this community of women, working in a collective studio environment, has led her to explore the subtle personal differences that emerge from the repetitive activity of weaving. Each canvas in the exhibition is comprised of beads stitched in an identical manner, yet each carries with it physical reminders of their slow making amidst the daily struggle of rural life. Ruptures, pock marks and streaks stain the surfaces. The ‘solid’ colour of these seductive surfaces becomes variegated, shifting with differing conditions of light, creating a tension between their sense of minimal order and timely, handmade imperfection. Evoking both minimal painting – in particular, colour field painting – and the unhindered patterning of natural materials, Lou's works seem to tonally vibrate, encouraging an embrace of their subtle shifts in register, as if viewing a horizon line at different times of day.
The ‘Solid/Divide’ canvases offer quiet and intense reflections on the pleasure of looking, rooted deeply in time and place and celebrate the complex beauty of their making. As with all of Lou’s sculpture, every inch of each canvas, including the painting’s sides and edges, are beaded, creating an insistent sense of object-hood, deftly eliding the line between sculpture and painting. They suggest a visual transformation, harnessing the power of humble materials to change something of substantial mass into fields of ethereal and translucent colour.