I love the Abstract Expressionist painters and Dusti Bongé’s AbEX period is my favorite of her career. It is with delight, then, that this week’s artwork in partnership with See Great Art and the Dusti Bongé Art Foundation takes as its focus a Abstract Expressionist sketch.
Analysis of the work comes from Ligia M. Römer, Executive Director of the Dusti Bongé Art Foundation.
Dusti Bongé, Spiral Bound Sketchbook – p.3, 1955, oil pastel on paper, 7” x 5”
This abstract work is from one of Dusti Bongé’s spiral bound sketchbooks for which both the front cover and back cover are missing. It contains several drawings like this one that are clearly from the height of her Abstract Expressionist period.
Considering the rather small size of the works, they run somewhat contrary to the explosive, large scale, active nature of expression typified by AbEx painting. However, when considered irrespective of their scale, and on their own merit, they clearly have the bold gestural quality associated with that approach to, and style of, painting.
Another thing that this work by Dusti Bongé clearly illustrates is her self-proclaimed love of all colors.
Even in her poetry, colors often appear as the protagonists. Dusti herself said that “when working with color I try to make my colors not only compatible or complimentary but to ‘sing’ together.”
In other words, she always aimed to combine or juxtapose colors in a way not to be merely pleasing to the eye, but to strike a chord in us. Indeed, here she uses colors in just such a way, bringing various hues together without relying on textbook combinations of complementary or analogous colors.
The central, vertical, vibrant green shape is enhanced by the deeply dark brown swath of color adjacent to it. Together, the two appear as a distinct figure against a background of lesser intensity colors. The top and bottom of this figure are highlighted by light blue accents, while flanking it to the left is an area of bright yellow and to the right a mix of a warm lighter brown and salmon.
Between the undeniable gestural energy and the bold colors, the impact of this 7” x 5” piece transcends its scale.