Caroline Absher’s vocabulary is informed by intensely saturated and vibrant palettes, comprising a series of powerful iridescences that expand her canvas in space by emanating explosive energies which unleash chromatic vibrations.
A native of South Carolina, Caroline herself exerts a very specific human energy and aura of genuine vitality, which finds perfect expression in her work.
Finally, after some months of dialogue, I find my way to Caroline’s Williamsburg studio. In our visit, she confesses how she feels that, recently her paintings have been absorbing and reflecting the whirlwind of the past two years. The works radiate all of the emotions, excitements, and worries since work first reached the attention of a broader audience.
Despite being trained in painting, it was only during the pandemic that she started to really believe in it, and dedicate herself full time to her practice. Before she had been working in set design for advertisements to make it in New York: a fully absorbing vocation, which was impeding on the artist’s practice, and after some time soul crashing.
Absher found herself back in her work, presenting again through Instagram her paintings, navigating several movements both historical and contemporary, weaving through heavily figurative landscapes, as a way to convey things people are able to read.
Nevertheless, this figuration is just on the first appearance the ground where Absher’s work moves: the slashing brushstrokes and the inflamed movements of colors erupting from her most recent paintings already reveal a specific mental state, a wonderful chaos she has been through, being overwhelmed by a very confusing art world, struggling with capitalist society forcing one to turn the creative expression into a product to sell, with all the relative rules to succeed. As she openly confesses this has been for her a struggle first, a challenge later, and an exciting but messy chaos to deal with, most recently.
On the other hand, as both her image-making process and her sketches reveal, Absher’s approach to painting appears to be primarily abstract. Seeing her preparation drawings is quite telling: there’s nothing there that suggests a figure, just a few lines describing the movements and directions she would like the composition to take. She laters reveals to me her process usually tends to chase an image in the head, but it slowly morphs as she works. The colors she picks from her palette on a large table, intuitively combining, eventually inform the next move and overall direction the picture will take in terms of tone and gradient sensations and atmospheres.
In her affinity to large scale canvases, Absher follows the paint, the colors and the different chromatics, as she proceeds through a spontaneous and instinctive physical involvement of gestures on the canvas.
This is also the reason for the specific size and primarily squared shape of her works, as these characteristics allow her a full and confident physical control of them.
In this way, Absher creates evocative scenes where the dramatic use of color simply amplifies the characters feelings and emotions, generating all around them a sort of energetic aura that expands in the surrounding. The entire scene describes more a mindscape / dreamscape than an objective reality, an abstract and expressive intensified view of human events and emotional situations.
As she explains, she feels painting with a preconceived scene is tiring and limiting for her, she wants to go beyond. For that reason, most recently she has explored with more freedom both colors and movements, loosening control of the figurative element, and getting more allegorical and symbolic in the way she shapes the picture, through a primarily emotional abstraction. I learn during our visit that there’s a lot of process of elaboration of the image, but then once she’s on the canvas she intuitively and fleetly produces the final image.
As she speaks, I sense her growth both as an artist and as a young woman: over these confusing past fast years, navigating and developing awareness of the precise voice and vocabulary she wants to express and convey in her works, no matter the changing market preferences and orientations.
Now, she has all the confidence needed to take on new directions, as she sets her sights to explore and push all the main elements of her style much further: movement, lights and colors are progressively expanding on more free expressive dimensions, progressively detaching the image from reality, in order to tap into deep subconscious or poetic universes: something that only a long-searched purely emotional expressive abstraction would allow her to fully explore.
When we met, Caroline was beginning preparation for her major solo show at Frederick & Freiser New York in May, following her presentation at Journal Gallery in September.
She exuded confidence of a maturing artist who knows exactly what she wants from her next show and what she wants people to see, while she’s aiming for a restless improvement, constantly evolving her vocabulary, style, and voice as an emerging painter and woman in the arts.