Three Female Artists Redefining Abstract Painting

Inspired by the Centre Pompidou’s seminal summer exhibition ‘Women in Abstraction’, here at BLUE we are exploring a new generation of female painters who are rethinking the term ‘abstraction’. Our aim is simple: to establish the importance of contemporary contributions by women to abstract art. 

Jadé Fadojutimi, Donna Huanca and Iris Garagnoux are three women who are redefining abstract painting today. Although these artists adopt different artistic approaches, they are united through a shared desire to find new ways of applying paint to the canvas, using marks, symbols and colour to develop suggestive and transcendent compositions and communicate forms of emotion with the viewer which are impossible to convey through language. 

1. Jadé Fadojutimi

Artwork by Iris Garagnoux

Jadé Fadojutimi, Ob-sess(h)-ion, 2020. 180 x 170 cm, oil, acrylic and oil stick on canvas

Exploding with bright hues, energetic brushstrokes, and suggestive shapes, Fadojutimi’s unique gestural abstraction is instantly recognisable. Exploring a complex emotional landscape, Jadé Fadojutimi’s paintings offer an insight into the artist’s quest for identity and self-knowledge, providing the viewer with a web of coalescing bright lines to follow and make connections. The intertwined patterns also explore the relationship between art and technology, as the vibrant hues recall the inks used in a computer’s printing process.

“I want to paint the indescribable”

Using new methods to capture emotion, Fadojutimi explains: “I want to paint the indescribable: moments that enthrall and challenge me with a stream of questions that continue to build over time.”

2. Donna Huanca

Donna Huanca, SELAH ROSA, 2019/20, 310 x 250 cm, Oil, sand on digital print on canvas

The human body is at the center of Donna Huanca’s work as she paints directly onto the body to create “live sculptures” before transcribing and reworking the images of her performers onto canvas using a mix of oil and sand (as pictured above). Gesture is enlarged and amplified as Huanca engages with colours and forms to create an interaction between the transient choreography of performance art and the permanence of painting, resulting in a hypnotic play of ephemerality and identity that is representative of the singularity of the artist’s own mark-making.

“What i try to do is create a glitch in the normal expectation of what an audience receives”

Huanca is driven to defy the male gaze and decolonise contemporary art through her own vision of the future: “what i try to do is create a glitch in the normal expectation of what an audience receives…in my work i want to project us into a new space, into a future space which values care, trust, community, and the natural world.”

3. Iris Garagnoux

Artwork by YI TO

Iris Garagnoux, Amnion 1, 2021, 96 x 96 cm, Acrylic paint and pigments on polyurethane membrane

Iris Garagnoux seeks to capture a physical energy and to materialise it into organic forms, polarised colours and provoked situations. Finding new ways to combine art, the human form and technology, Iris uses video footage and observations taken from under the microscope as inspiration and transcribes these findings onto the canvas using paint and her body as an artistic tool. In doing so, she creates paintings without image, and without proper organisation.

“Painting allows me to create a repertoire of gestures where I communicate through marks, gestures, and rhythms”

Iris explains: “Painting allows me to create a repertoire of gestures where I communicate through marks, gestures, and rhythms. While the canvas is assimilated to a membrane, paint is the cytoplasm, a place of fluid circulation, ebb, and flow of cell matter. The bright and vitaminized colours come from my observation of living matter under a microscope where I play with polarised lights.”