Sound and surface, #10

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"One day a cellist friend of mine was watching me paint in my studio," Thekla Hammond recalls. "He asked if I would mind if he played his cello while I painted. He played the Bach Suites, and it was so beautiful. I realized I could make wonderful paintings to his music. So we decided to do a project together, and it was about the act of creation." The resulting collaboration between artist and musician took place over a distance of several hundred miles. Each responded to the other's work by shipping music tapes and paintings back and forth between Berkeley and Los Angeles. After a year, the correspondence had produced 22 "musical sketches" and paintings. For Hammond, the process brought up provocative realizations regarding the differences between painting and music. "With a completed painting, you can go back to it again and again and see new things all the time," she notes. "In music, you can only hear the sound by experiencing it at that one moment. In that way, it is absolutely linear." To fully integrate the two experiences, Hammond presented the finished series of paintings as a performance. The paintings were hung on the walls of a darkened room. As the musical piece that inspired it was played, each painting was illuminated, one by one. Hammond explains: "Thus the audience saw each painting the way we hear music. At the end, all the paintings were lit together, and you could see that they made a huge abstract landscape." Hammond says she paints images in an abstract style because it is more suggestive. Not based on or bound by a literal or visual reality, abstract works allow her to focus on the actual process of painting. "I'm so in love with the paint and the surface that I want that to count for a lot in my paintings," she explains. "I like to get lost in form, color, and energy." For Hammond, the working process is a dialogue between her and the painting. The traces of this dialogue are what the viewer encounters on the canvas, and perhaps what begins from there is yet another dialogue — this one between artist and audience. "I invite the viewer to share with me something intimate, personal, and very particular," says Hammond. "I want to connect to what is human and honest in all of us, and to ponder the magic of being." Further Information is available on the artist's website