Graduating from the University of Auckland’s Elam School of Fine Arts in 2012, Amanda Gruenwald has developed a striking and ambitious painting practice that does not shy away from speaking to the heart of the medium. Awarded the Gordon Harris Painting Prize and the Kate Edgar Charitable Trust Grant in her final year of study, Gruenwald is quickly distinguishing herself as a thoughtful and formidable emerging artist.
Working at scale and taking colour and form as her subjects, Gruenwald’s distinctive shapes collide, bleed and fray into one another. Cognisant of the great American colour field painters, Gruenwald subtly subverts their dictates and skirts around their rules, disrupting the flatness of the painting’s plane with layers of over-painting, sometimes heavily gestural, that mediate a balance between deliberation and intuition.
Further divergence from colour field painting is evidenced by Gruenwald’s practise of painting on stretched canvases, rather than cropping a completed painting ’image’ from a larger canvas. Resonant of the so-called Radical Painters of the 80’s, for whom the support structure is an object whose specific purpose is to-be-painted, Gruenwald works to the notion that the intrinsic structural relationship between paint and support dictates the confines of the painting and affects the internal composition, with paint pooling and spreading according to the unique tensions of each stretched canvas.
Relying as much upon deconstruction as construction, Gruenwald builds and subtracts layers of paint according to the interior logics that emerge within each painting. Oscillating between soft washes and heavy, concrete brushwork, Gruenwald’s forms merge and shift, each layer communicating with those that came before and after, creating an interior network of conversation between distinctive gestures.
This process of erasure and addition has become a fixture in Gruenwald’s practice, allowing great freedom of chance and experimentation at early stages of the work.
Amanda Gruenwald lives and works in Auckland.