Walking into Aida Tomescu’s new studio earlier this week, it was clear she has now colonised every corner. The cacti are doing well situated at the new northern window, there is a comfortable sofa and a CD player with Mahler on repeat. Scented candles work hard to curb the chemistry of oil paint – but primarily this space is an engine for working and that is exactly what she has been doing. As Aida shifted weighty canvases from one side of the studio to the other, each considerably larger than she, the ambition and scale of her endeavours was clearly evident.
This new exhibition The Open Wounds of White Clouds comes at a time when Aida herself suggests that she hadn’t felt this energised and productive in more than a decade. Though she may have painted herself to a standstill one can sense that the excitement of what she has been able to produce for this exhibition will continue to evolve and induce more powerful work.
All the paintings in this exhibition are dramatic and forceful – colour is corporeal, gesture is authoritative. These qualities are given most latitude where the scale allows maximum opportunity for the cadence and command to amplify. Sewn onto Stones in the Sky is an epically scaled triptych, the largest painting Tomescu has ever made and follows a clutch of diptychs painted since 2017 that initiated this new expansiveness. The triptych has a grand musical action about it. A series of forceful passages build tone and density across the breadth of its score. Each panel confers with the others in a composition that has both delicacy and power. Layers of colour and gesture collude in an unexpected collage that sustains the intensity of the rich magenta crescendos.
Other paintings in this new group such as Into the Folds Of White and Folded Into The White Of My Words I & II remind us again how much Tomescu’s gesture is grounded in drawing and excavation. Her angular calligraphy ducks in and out of the broader brushstrokes of white, its legibility abandoned long ago.
Tomescu’s script act’s as a metaphor for a rapport, a fundamental mark making that is axiomatic, beyond dialect and tongue, its communicative weight rests on the dismantling of language. Tomescu unfastens painting from depiction so that the reconstruction of form is unfettered by illusion. Seldom do we see painting that is sufficiently brave as to disentangle itself from the comfort of what we know and determinedly pose what we fear.
Andrew Jensen, September 2019