Dusti Bongé experiment with color composition

Like musicians tinkering with their instruments, jamming, working out ideas far removed from an audience, painters are constantly doodling, sketching, experimenting with forms, lines and colors. Some of these pictures see the light of day, many do not. See Great Art’s partnership with the Dusti Bongé Art Foundation in Biloxi, MS this week focuses on one of countless such experiments by Bongé, Mississippi’s first artist to work strictly in a Modernist style.

Analysis of the artwork, as always, comes from Dusti Bongé Art Foundation Executive Director Ligia Römer.

Dusti Bongé, Untitled (Red Circle and Rectangle with Yellow, Blue and Black), 1976. tempera on board, 11” x 8”. Paul Bongé Collection

Dusti Bongé’s output of work during the 1970s includes a lot of small to medium sized works on paper where she is experimenting with various color compositions. Her work is still completely abstract, but the style has changed subtlety.

Retaining her bold expressive strokes, Dusti now starts to use them in a way that suggests more distinctive shapes or forms than in her earlier works. These forms, although mostly non-representational, nonetheless offer the viewer something concrete to focus on. They are familiar shapes like circles, or rectangles, or trapezoids, or totems. They set up a certain foreground-background interplay, given that as figures they inherently demand a ground. In addition, they interact through their relative positions to one another. 

In this work the red “rectangle” and red circle with its yellow interior appear as focal elements in the composition. They are prominent in the middle ground, although the yellow spills out the back of the circle, but in front of the rectangle’s right side. The red, heavy, horizontal line below this focal group, in the immediate foreground, almost sets up a sense of perspective, with the black totems in the upper right, and the one behind the rectangle, contributing to that perception of depth.

Thus with a few gestures Dusti Bongé has created a powerful interplay between her various markings on the paper.

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