Tomma Abts at the Serpentine


This exhibition is a treat. Twenty five small abstract paintings evenly spaced around the outside walls of the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, leaving the inner walls bare. You might at first think that these works are quiet and unassuming but, boy, are you wrong.. Her vocabulary is limited to geometric forms and, as you progress around the paintings, these forms become almost like words and you feel that the paintings are having a conversation with each other.


She works intuitively and traces of former states are visible in many of the paintings. You know that it has taken a long time to get there. There is an illusion of a limited depth created by tonal inflection: the planes buckle and slide and advance and retreat without any obvious logic. It is rather like a dynamic and unfathomable kind of origami.

Her work has been described as enigmatic but this is a way of trying to avoid dealing with the complexities of their construction. The paintings are certainly strange though and quite unlike anything else that I have ever seen – but they can pull you in and you have to let this happen. They make me covetous, I get a strong impulse to grab one off the wall and run. But which one? I would never be able to decide.


Tomma Abts is at The Serpentine Galleries until 9 September and then at the Art Institute of Chicago from 18 October until 17 February 2018

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Charlotte says:

    Blatently nick the second one

    1. fenellacrichton says:

      good choice!

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