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Beaney Works in Progress

The Decisive Line

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Chestnut Jacana
The Decisive Line is an evolving aspect of my work, with the name originating in a dream. In 2012 I had an exhibition in the Margate Harbour Arm Gallery which coincided with Tracey Emin’s show ‘She Lay Down Deep Beneath the Sea’ at Turner Contemporary in Margate. Every afternoon, having finished invigilating my show, I would spend an hour or so contemplating Emin’s work. Slowly my view of her work and of her changed. I came to see a great honesty and braveness of concept. Vulnerable fragility exposed. After my last visit to her show I had a dream about one of the paintings and in the dream I really understood. I woke up and, as with most dreams, the memory of it faded like a snow flake on water. For a week I endeavoured to recall that dream, for I knew I had the answer as to what Emin was doing in those Winsor-blue line drawings. Eventually I did remember. She was looking at her subject for a very long time, contemplating and understanding. Only then did she commit to a line. Not an accurate line but a line with feeling and emotion. The Decisive Line.

Two years later and another exhibition at Turner Contemporary – Helen Frankenthaler. I loved all of her paintings in the show but was not too sure exactly why. I returned many times to that exhibition to spend many hours just looking at each work very carefully. It was a rather meditative experience and there again was the Decisive Line. One picture in particular, Hotel Cro-Magnon, had that Decisive Line. Not the entire picture but a bold, slashing black line that careened across the canvas. Frankenthaler could spend many days painting one line. It was not the physical act but the decision that took the time.

Now I was ready to create my first painting in the Decisive Line series. I stole Frankenthaler’s line. I lifted it out of her painting and created …