Joao Laia writes about text on painting (or painting on text), following the work of Irma Blank. The relationship between book and canvas, between the structure of a single page and the gesture of the artist, between language and abstraction.
Paintings, the silent writings of Irma Blank drawings
Since the late 1960s Irma Blank has been exploring the continuities and ruptures between written and visual languages, focusing on the elemental potentialities of the sign, reimagined as a site of infinite discovery. Blank’s method is established around series of work where the artist explores a specific mode of analytical production. Using text as a main reference point, the artist recurrently employs and quotes the book as a means to organize and contextualize her gestures. In her two first major cycles, Eigenschriften and Trascrizioni, the book is alluded to either directly or via its primary element: the page, both series displaying homogeneous textual landscapes. More recent bodies of work such as Radical Writing and especially Avant-testo depart from this line, enhancing the abstract potential of her method and abandoning all direct representations of the sign.