Review of Barbara Fisher’s Tangled Mapping Exhibition

Painting by Barbara Fisher entitled "A Quiet, Tangled Moment"

Barbara Fisher, A Quiet, Tangled Moment

by Jeremy Phillips
September, 2019

After winning a 2019 Pollock-Krasner foundation grant, Asheville-based painter, Barbara Fisher, is showing her dramatic body of new work in, Tangled Mapping: Memories of the Future, currently up through September 22, 2019 at The Pink Dog Creative Gallery in Asheville’s River Arts District.

The show presents 24 paintings of gorgeous and controlled abstractions. In mostly two or three foot square canvases, pure plays of line and color collide in compact swarms of swirling lines that tangle into forms. Clever titles such as Thought Knot, Detour, and Brainstorm suggest the riotous movements of an unquiet mind. With coherent color palettes, shapes form out of the jumble, surprising, but also satisfying.

Many of the central riots of color are surrounded by brushed white areas which clarify the overall mass of webs. The effect pushes the tangles into the recesses of the canvas, even as the top layers push forward toward the viewer. By staring into the multiple layers of color lines, the viewer catches an illusion of depth, like glimpsing the outlines of trees deep in a forest when driving past.

Particular standouts are four 30 in. x 30 in. paintings where thin washes of white have been built into the myriad layers of lines, smudging the clarity and softening the colors into a subtle, but beautiful effect. In A Quiet, Tangled Moment, the chaotic jumbles are still there, but the lines now have no clear beginnings or endings, as if time has weathered the sharper edges.

The New York school painters seemed to find an endpoint in Pollock’s drip paintings with even Pollock himself finally uncertain of how to move forward with the work. It is hard not to think of Pollock in the midst of the drips, drops, and the water-thinned acrylics Fisher unconventionally applies by medicinal droppers amidst grounds of brushed and pushed areas of viscous color. Pollock’s 1940’s critics took him to task for paintings that “resemble nothing so much as a mop of tangled hair” and look like “a child’s contour map of the battle of Gettysburg.” Fisher has embraced this “tangled mapping” as a force of freedom to create her own (to use Pollock’s words) “memories arrested in space.”

Fisher takes the pure abstraction possibilities of poured and dripped paint in her own unique direction. Her vision is more concise, tightly bound, specific, and gloriously free from grand macho gesture. The allusions to circuitry, webbed connections, metro maps and stormy weather are of our moment – current, chaotic, explosive, and beautiful.

Please click here to see more of Barbara’s work at her website.