“I often start with a flat acrylic colour for the ground and then use oil paints for everything else – the marks, the gestures, the drawing, the cartoon figures, the drips and veils of colour. Everything is improvised. Things form and reform; the same colours do different jobs with different outcomes. The painting continually reconfigures its own elements but for the moment this is what it looks like. Closer examination reveals three pandas, concealed and camouflaged by the cobalt pours, their features picked out in bright colours, and black dots helping to define their somewhat occluded shapes. Whether or not the pandas are protagonists, onlookers or victims, I cannot say. Their presence in the cobalt clouds suggests animacy and imagery, although this remains unnameable and ambiguous. They remain, after all, just dots of paint.
Sometimes I think my paintings look as if a cartoon character has made an abstract expressionist painting. But there is an utter seriousness about the endeavour, the precision of the colour and the paint marks, yet the paintings often include elements one might not expect to find inhabiting the realm of pure painterly abstraction. I might be aware of what the rules and traditions are supposed to be, but I think it’s much more exciting to break them in order to create something new and relevant to our time.”
Fiona Rae will show with Ali Banisadr, Angel Otero and Marius Bercea at Galerie Isa’s group show Between Worlds, at the gallery in Mumbai, from June 27 to September 20, 2014.