What the Wild Bees Know by Andrew Lambirth
Royal Academy Magazine
The buzz is out about Rebecca Salter. Actually it is more of a low steady hum but all the more reassuring for being constant. Like the noise from a productive hive, one is at once reminded that bees were judged by the ancients to be disseminators of knowledge. Salter (born 1955) is an artist of the utmost integrity and distinction. Long popular in Japan and America, she is yet to be widely acclaimed in this country. Her new show at Jill George should go a long way to remedy previous neglect, for beside new subtly-modulated paintings there are woodcut prints (done in the traditional Japanese fashion) and her first artist's book of 30 small images. What is her subject? Perhaps the pattern of eternity, in which the accent is on harmony rather than chaotic activity. Salter's work has long focused on calmness, the still centre of the flux, but equally it has never denied movement incorporating it for balance. Salter paints an image on canvas, involving succinct tonal and linear arrangements then cuts this into squares or triangles and rearranges them slightly to make a new statement. New and yet composed of the same elements, as if coming at her goal from the inside as well as the out side. Her scrupulous procedure is a species of philosophical enquiry which also happens to be formally beautiful.