Visitors to Alice Teichert’s Port Hope studio have a new hurdle to surmount in the form of a most attractive wrought iron gate originating from Roumania, but sourced somewhat more conveniently from Legacy Vintage, just down the road in Cobourg.
Responding to my knock, and most probably alerted by the strident shriek expressed by the gate’s hinges, Alice appears and immediately disappears deep into the studio to tend to paintings supported on the horizontal by industrial sized buckets of paint. Alice is busy preparing for her next solo exhibition at Oeno Gallery in Prince Edward County. Though the reception is cordial, the mood is serious: there’s no time for tea and chocolates on this visit*. No waiting for the muse to appear, Alice is making it happen. Music plays in energetic encouragement.
Trying to remain inconspicuous, I attempt to photograph Alice’s most remarkably intense scrutiny as she works away: the paintings vie for attention and she responds to each in turn following an application of paint. Mysteriously, colours float up to the surface as she applies an unknown substance with a wand. Alice’s painting is very much about the process and grows from the interaction of painter and painting, one work leans in a particular direction, another suggests a different path. Experimenting with a new transparent glaze presents new opportunities. It is a journey into the unknown, yet there is logic at work. Too often we think of logic as a quality associated primarily with science, but when one looks back over several years of an artist’s work, the logic of its development becomes more clearly seen.
Alice is of European background, speaks at least four languages and had acquired a most comprehensive knowledge of art history and her place within that history prior to moving to Canada. As a child before learning to speak, she was profoundly influenced by music and came to a very early understanding that marks on paper, that is musical notation, had significance. “I understood that each dot had significance according to position.” We can applaud Jack Bush for attracting her here and affording her meetings with Clement Greenberg, the seminal art critic and champion of abstract art.
A studio visit allows one to see previous works in the context of that currently being created, and I notice the new works are greatly simplified, even empty, if not even verging on the minimalistic. Her printmaking background seems to be asserting itself, with large passages of colour betraying little to no texture, almost as if printed. Solid colour blocks are divided by the appearance of a white brushed out line...as if tectonic plates had ruptured and allowed a universal energy to escape. Reminiscent also of St. Elmo’s Fire or perhaps the representation of music on an oscilloscope. From a painterly mark making perspective, this line is more than fascinating...I cannot even guess how this has been crafted. Colours are potentially suggestive of landscape as inspiration, but personally I rarely feel it helpful in appreciating a work to proceed down this route. Equally unhelpful are titles, often deliberately misleading or solely for archival purposes, they inevitably impose a form response. I prefer the analogy of listening to opera, which I can do in French, German, or Italian without “understanding” a word that is being sung and yet still derive a meaningful experience. Once I heard a rabbi reciting something in ancient Hebrew and immediately I was overwhelmed by the sound and recognized those sounds as valuable and meaningful, without comprehending a word.
“While we are walking into these new times together, I took a deeper dive into the resources of my own building blocks that keep me on track and now virtually online. Everything is informing my visual process. Revisiting my earlier work from the nineties inspired me to integrate previous approaches as well as other mediums in line of my current directions.”
Over the years Alice Teichert has essentially created her own language and produced work that resonates with significance, which she refers to as visual poetry. “Because my work hovers between the notion of text, language and music...through the eyes of a painter.”
These works are in some way a response to current situation and Alice provided me with a comment to share and some evidence of her sense of humour. “My paintings still continue to evolve...while I keep experimenting with my palette and new mediums moment by moment.”
“In reflection of thought Let there be bright light in our self “Eye-Soleil-tion” :-) (Soleil is French for sunshine.)
Connectivity will run from November 6 to 26 by appointment with Oeno Gallery.
* See previous article re Alice Teichert in the Spring 2015 Magazine