Dusti Bongé abstract sketch

As the first painter from Mississippi to work in an exclusively Modernist style, Dusti Bongé regularly engaged with abstraction. Abstract Expressionism, surely, but a variety of abstract methods. Here is an example.

Analysis of the piece, like always, is provided by Executive Director of the Dusti Bongé Art Foundation Ligia M. Römer.

Dusti Bongé, Black Hardbound Artist Sketchbook – p.17, 1980, watercolor and felt tip pen on paper, 8 ¼” x 5 ¼”

Here is a powerful example of Dusti Bongé’s virtuosity in using color throughout her ever-evolving career. At first glance it appears to be a simple composition, and yet it achieves a very rich visual quality.

This sketch shows how Dusti continued experimenting and challenging her own approach to abstraction. In her later years, exemplified by sketches in this sketchbook, some of her work developed into an abstract vocabulary with more clearly distinguishable forms. Rectangular, circular, and oval shapes start to appear in many of her compositions.

The works are also marked by luscious vibrant color, a lyrical sensibility and hints of spiritual expression (as in her works exploring the Buddhist concept of the void). Still, they retain her inevitable gestural energy, and strong mark making.

In this particular work, we have a simple primary form of an incredibly luminous, red, almost fuchsia, rectangle against a gray wash background. This dominant red form is placed just left of center.

The vertical void at the center of the rectangle is accented by a black and yellow line, colors which are repeated in the lower right gray background. A bit of the gray background shines through the luminous shape, rendering it purple, and allowing figure and ground to play against each other. All together these elements create a visual complexity that keeps the eye moving.

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