Three hundred and thirty five

335

Orange Sweater

1955 by Elmer Bischoff
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Bischoff was part of the post-war American Bay Area Figurative Movement, a group of artists who rejected the prevailing style of Abstract Expressionism (see postcard 140, a Jackson Pollock) for one that brought back figurative elements to painting. Paint is still laid heavily and shape abstracted, but the figurative definition in Bischoff’s work creates obvious or personal narratives, an element perhaps lacking in Abstract Expressionism. Reflective, Bischoff’s paintings are quiet; muted tones carry this emotion across Orange Sweater. Soft grey builds, contemplative, across the composition, changing subtly and in depth – allowing light to sing through a blind and the darkening of clouds to push against the window pane. Bright colour then announces itself poignantly, in the illusive orange sweater and the green that sweeps below it, caught by the bars of the window. Brush strokes are bold; the hand of the figure, the reaching arms of the plant summoned in a casual flick of a brush. The yellow figure in the distance takes this even further; a blur, their body is made up of lines and an oval head. Although the grey in the painting lightens to white, its effect is not cold: there is the tingling of creeping memory throughout, carried by the warm breath of yellow caught in the walls; ignited by the bright orange from the jumper, which draws us back in once again.

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