This is the first solo exhibition by the British artist Helen Booth to be held in Scotland, and features over 25 artworks inspired by a recent residency in Iceland. She has exhibited widely across the UK, Europe and USA, In 2019, she received two prestigious New York awards – a Pollock Krasner award for painting and an Adolf and Esther Gottlieb Prize for Abstract Painting.
Iceland is known as ‘The Land of Fire and Ice’ due to its ancient topography of giant glaciers, waterfalls, hot springs and fiery volcanoes, a wild, desolate terrain, sculpted through climate and time.
‘Standing in a divine landscape has reinforced my personal belief that Nature is the most powerful force and that trying to capture the essence of Nature in its purist form is what is important to me as an artist.’ – Helen Booth
Feel the chill air in Abstract Landscape, 4, as soft snow flutters from a billowing cloud – through this icy veil you can detect the hazy, hard shapes of rocks and hills.
Again with atmospheric realism, Abstract Landscape 7, is a swirling whiteout whirl with the dark mass of a mountain shimmering in the mist. This bleak environment is a pale palette of milk-white, cream and blue-greys; the cool, crisp winter light glistens with an ethereal quality etched into the frozen lakes and snow-smothered peaks.
These painterly landscapes are pared down to the one essential element – water – with a stream of drips, the flow and fluidity of melting glaciers, as in Frozen Water and Falling Water.
A more dramatic scene in Abstract Landscape 8 – perhaps a threatening thunderstorm – with a quick, thick, sweeping brushstroke of a black sky. Also with abstract purity, a flourish of translucent spots and dots depicts the vision of glimmering icicles and drifting snowflakes with monochrome minimalism.
This seemingly simple, subtle technique is so effective, such as in I Think About You All The Time with its sparkling glow like a gentle blizzard and also in the delicate, pointillist pattern in Silent Fall of Snow. Magical, mesmerising, meditative.
The title, This Divine Quiet, comes from a memoir by Christiane Ritter, A Woman in the Polar Night, about life in the Arctic wilderness. Likewise, with poetic, painterly eloquence Helen Booth captures the bleak, majestic natural beauty of Iceland with a tangible, serene sense of place.
Abstract Art is always rooted in experience of the real world… and provides an emotional satisfaction similar to that of landscape.’ Pepe Karmel – Abstract Art, a Global History.
With grateful thanks to Vivien Devlin for this review.