As the weather takes a turn it’s time for us to start planning the season for indoor leisure. And what better way to kick off Autumn then an afternoon spent wandering Tate Modern at the Agnes Martin retrospective. Martin is recognised for her subtle colour washes and pared-back, minimalist approach to art, developed over a career which spanned over 50 years.
Characterised by horizontal lines and blocks of pale colour, there’s a sense of zen about her work that makes a trip around this exhibition especially soothing. The atmosphere of the artwork is no coincidence - Agnes followed Taoism and Zen Buddhism and lived a solitary life which meant she was sometimes labelled as an ‘outsider’. However her delicate work does all the talking, blending light pastel colours with seamless lines and a focus on stillness and serenity.
Martin quit art in 1967, selling her possessions and disappearing in a camper van around America. She ended her trip in a self-constructed mud hut in the desert and returned to the art world 5 years later. It was later revealed that she struggled with schizophrenia, and her paintings from after this period signal a more grid-like, all-white approach that is the epitome of minimalism and perhaps a reflection of her own state of mind during this period.
Spirituality is present throughout the entire retrospective, with Martin once quoted as saying that ‘Without awareness of beauty, innocence and happiness one cannot make works of art’. This couldn’t sum up the mood behind her artistic style any better. The exhibition is the cultural equivalent of peace and quiet - perfect for taking some time out from the daily chaos and completely absorbing at the same time.
Agnes Martin at the Tate Modern runs until 11th October.
Words: Lucy Vincent