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 speaks 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, and was given her first public gallery exposure in 2017 at the Govett-Brewster / Len Lye Centre in Surface Affect, with Jeena Shin and Michael Zavros.
Gruenwald is alert to our image-saturated digital and physical landscape, referencing the use of designers’ colour profiles and topographers’ physical profiles. Working at scale with colour and form, 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, and paint erasure, that together mediate a balance between deliberation and intuition. Relying as much upon deconstruction as construction, there is an oscillation between thickness and thinness, energy and calm that ebb and flow over Gruenwald’s surfaces, according to the interior logic emergent within each painting.
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.
Gruenwald’s interplay between the meditative fields of colour in tension with the improvisational gestural nature of the mark-making combine with the physicality of engagement with materials and her bodily thinking. This active/meditative process allows for great freedom of chance and experimentation at early stages of the work.
Amanda Gruenwald lives and works in Auckland.