Antonia Sellbach

Conversations with Form
May 3rd – 25th, 2024


Through the method of collage, this series brings together materials such as wood, clay, plaster, hydrostone, sand, acrylic paint and oil pastel to explore serial groupings of abstract form and their intrinsic dialectic qualities.

The action of amassing a set of abstract fragments, elements and pieces, then grouping these parts into smaller, individual sets, holds within it, the requirement for a specific kind of attentiveness, of ‘listening’. Sometimes within the art making process, total surrender is necessary, one has to put aside the need to ‘know’. A trust, (it is enough to think ‘I am drawn to these shapes’) and a willingness to work with seriality is required, in order to reveal more context. The process of making this body of work felt very much like that.

When artists use repetitive forms in an overt way, we are, in part, ‘custodians’ of those forms. By returning to similar forms, I am not attempting to ‘master’, conquer or artistically own them, I am not attempting to ‘mine them’ as a resource. By returning to similar forms in my arts research, through this repetition I come into direct and reciprocal relationship to them. Therein starts a conversation.

If these forms are to speak, what do they say? This imagined conversation between me, and you (the viewer) is hypothetical, is one of many. And yet the answer as far as I have been able to distill it, is as follows:

Abstract forms speak in a language of multiplicity. They speak through their shape. Each abstract form is an utterance, a proposition both metaphorical and physical. Each abstract form is a body, an ‘I’ that connects to greater collectives of forms. Should we engage with them, should we entangle with them, each form is a symbol, a seed that holds within it vast serial trails of potential iterative action.

Each form is ‘neither nor’, each form is ‘yes, and…’ Forms are a rich language. Forms are a dialectic. Process is the action that feeds form. Process reveals the intentions of form. The processes of mirroring, repeating, stacking, merging, splitting, rotating, placing, grouping feed into that multiplicity- become part of the playful movement of actions and reciprocal entanglements that draw us to form.

Becoming familiar with the ways in which form speaks leads me to another proposition. (Because abstraction doesn’t exist within a vacuum, because abstraction is intrinsically related to everyday life- to politics, to thought, to action…) Can we think and act more like form? How can we be more attentive to our own individual and collective multiplicity? In the active whirring of abstraction, the innate quality it has to exist outside of literal, direct or singular thought, to provide through shape, emotion, potentiality, colour, vibration, rhythm and relationship, there lies a clue for living these times. An attentiveness, an engagement with emergent and enfolding processes is yet again required. An open listening for subtle qualities, a need for integration, an understanding of vast and layered multiplicities.