June 8th 1979: Between being and not being

Arts Page: Kunstkroniek

Between ‘being’ and ‘not being’ (Walter Barten)

The paintings which British artist Rhonda Whitehead is exhibiting at the Article Gallery, 629 Prinsengracht,Amsterdam (until 23 June) lead a subtle existence on the borderline between ‘being’ and ‘not being’. These are large canvasses painted in a mixed white, with line undulating from left to right in minute tone differences and at times lighter or darker with regard to the background. What tangible form contrasts there are either parallel horizontal lines, polygons painted in a somewhat different tone, or hardly perceptable background transitions from white to grey.

Whatever happens on these canvasses is of such minimal movement that one wonders whether they are painted at all, or whether there is an optic illusion because of minute differences in the fibre of the linen or the tone of the lighting. If one can muster the patience for a longer look, the surface slowly comes to life.

The course of the lines betrays the concentrated movement of the hand. The hardly visible contrasts in form in the background suggests the scanning of space. It is an exciting play between light and form, static surface and a line which becomes movement. Five years ago, Rhonda Whitehead participated in an exhibition of kinetic art in Utrecht where she found a starting-point which led to painting and resulted in a tension between movement and fundamental research of the material.