Looking and Thinking
March 3 – 31, 2015
Opening Reception: Sunday, Mar. 8, 2 - 4 pm
Barbara Hadden was born in Hamburg, Germany, and spent her childhood in Europe and the Middle East. She studied painting, photography and filmmaking at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She was awarded an Alumni Traveling Fellowship from that school for her work in photography. Hadden was a finalist in the Regional Fellowships for Visual Arts, awarded through the New England Foundation for the Arts. In the last decade, she regularly attended artist residency programs, which have deepened her commitment to landscape-based painting and photography. She lives in western Massachusetts.
Homeless Abstraction and The Settle Bed
Sometimes it’s good to be lost, but you don’t want to stay lost—like the lookout climbing down the mast from the fog in Seamus Heaney’s poem “The Settle Bed,” and the ship’s gone. When you’re at the top and you’re looking out, you have an idea. The climbing down the mast from that idea is where a painting begins, and by the end it’s something else entirely, but you still want it to mean something. You want the ship to be there when you climb down.
Painting is limitlessness. That’s a bit scary, because you need to be able to communicate. The painting has to have something to grab on to. The challenge is figuring out how to do that, without letting yourself get away with something.
You can make up the limits for yourself, like I’m a realist painter, or a minimalist painter, to pare it down a bit. I say it’s all abstract, but on what plane will people recognize things? I would like people to see my work on a metaphorical plane. The realm I play with is landscape, but I don’t want to have cues, like “cloud,” though I might. I am moving beyond my own landscape schema, definitely beyond trees—though I still might do a tree painting now and then. I just don’t want to repeat myself, at least not all the time.
…whatever is given
Can always be reimagined, however four-square,
Plank-thick, hull-stupid and out of its time
It happens to be.
Homeless abstraction is a phrase I overhead in a gallery. To me it means a painting that doesn’t communicate anything, a feeling or a recognition. And the Settle Bed is redundancy of self. In the context of tradition, it’s conditioning. At this stage of making paintings that step farther into the abstract, these two concepts guide me.