The Rafius Fane Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition of paintings by Laura Battle. A starting point for all of Laura Battle’s work is geometrical division of a rectangle. In paintings, drawings and prints, the Hudson Valley artist explores geometry’s potential to offer an optically charged mental space in which to explore universal visual language and its symbolic, existential meaning.
Laura Battle titled this exhibition ‘Rise’ to honor movements upwards. During a recent visit to India, she pondered the architecture of the Jantar Mantar — massive instruments built by Jai Singh centuries ago to trace the passage of the sun and moon and of the night sky. These observatories ask us to look up, to measure ourselves in relationship to these structures and to the movements of the solar system.
Paintings and drawings are also ‘instruments’ for thought about our place in the universe. To Battle, every position holds meaning. Heaven is above, hell below. The earth is below any horizontal line, the cosmos always above. We rise bottom left to upper right, toward hope and possibility. We descend in reverse, into black. Gravity comes and goes.
The bindi — the third eye — is at 12 o’clock. It receives whispers or echoes from above and sends its message downwards. A vertical line suggests a body; a horizontal line, a landscape. Where they cross, body meets nature. As the horizon moves up or down, we shift from bird’s-eye to worm’s-eye views: an attic, a basement, a pair of shoulders, a foot. Hands touch 3 o’clock. What is near is below, what is far away, above. And so on.
Battle simplifies these forces in visual terms, as cognitive and perceptual prompts, and find meaning in how they present themselves. She has been thinking deeply about architecture: the Jantar Mantar, the Pyramids of Cheops, the Pantheon and Lotus Temple. In painting and drawing, she keeps returning to Emma Kunz, Hilma af Klint, the Tantriki, Agnes Martin and Ann Truitt. In words, most recently those of Maya Angelou come to her mind:
“But still, like dust, I’ll rise…” — Still I Rise, Maya Angelou (1928–2014)