There’s something soothing about staring into the works of Agathe de Bailliencourt. In her latest show, “Water, Colour, Recordings” at Singapore’s Art Plural Gallery, the Berlin-based artist presents a suite of paintings based on the horizon—a rhythmic repetition of blue and white that captures the intangible nature of the place where light and sky meet earth.
In the works, pale, watercolor washes on untreated canvas blend together into a placid gradient of soft color—a 21st-century update of J.M.W. Turner’s seascapes, or a painterly interpretation of Hiroshi Sugimoto’s photographic skies. Working this way, de Bailliencourt makes her canvases extremely sensitive to the paint, allowing the artist’s process to remain visible even in the finished work. Each gesture takes a long time to dry, forcing her to step back and slowly develop each piece in a natural way.
In some ways, her choice of subject matter becomes a lack of subject matter, as the works take on the appearance of color field paintings. “I like the line of the horizon because it speaks about so many things simultaneously, so many dimensions and ideas,” the artist has said about her earlier investigations into the theme, a series entitled “Couleur du Temps.” “I like when things are open and not so categorized, moving beyond categories, like inside and outside, for example. So it’s not really a definition, more a description, describing something else, behind the horizon, perhaps.”
Expanding the idea of what a landscape can look like has long been a topic of interest for the artist, although you won’t see many trees or mountains in her body of work. Instead, de Bailliencourt searches to recreate the sense of a place or moment through the subtlest of suggestion of color and light, or even, as in earlier paintings, by using works to “write a landscape.”