July 6, 2013

POSTED BY

Madison Grube

CATEGORY

Hard-Edge Painting: Esther Stewart

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Esther Stewart is known for her uniquely simplistic hard-edge paintings, a style featuring abrupt transitions between bold colors. Although the term was first coined in 1959, this vivid and sharp approach to abstract painting has become a lasting favorite of the general public, hence Stewart’s great success. “I just came …

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Esther Stewart is known for her uniquely simplistic hard-edge paintings, a style featuring abrupt transitions between bold colors. Although the term was first coined in 1959, this vivid and sharp approach to abstract painting has become a lasting favorite of the general public, hence Stewart’s great success.

“I just came into it,” Stewart says when asked where her interest in the style stems from. “From making folding works that referenced hard-edge, I gained interest and confidence to create pure paintings that relied on the quality of the form and color to be successful.”

Her practice is based on an exploration of the constructed environment in which we live. One body of work, titled Portable Compactable, occupies the space betwixt the purely aesthetic and the functional object. Another, called Makin’ Plans (shown below), avoids conventional perspectives and manages to produce the illusion of space within a flat surface.

We certainly cannot argue with the careful composition of her shapes and designs, which both contrast and compliment one another. The delicate and deliberate modesty is a modern take on the phrase “Less is more.” Stewart’s works are so very simple, yet they capture the eye and captivate the attention of the viewer.

In comparison with the more classically illustrative styles of painting, hard-edge paintings are not difficult to see or absorb. Everything is in plain sight, little is physically hidden in regards to the composition of the piece; however, what makes Stewart’s pieces so enthralling is what isn’t hidden, why one shape or color is used as opposed to another, and what that says about that particular piece as a whole. The mystery is a large part of the appeal and spectacle of hard-edge painting and the more broad category that is modern art. One’s interpretation can be totally and completely different from that of another. Abstract is the question, but there is not a lone answer.

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