Beth Letain (b. 1976, Canada) earned a BA from McGill University, Montreal, in 1999; a BFA from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax, in 2005; and an MFA in painting from SUNY Purchase, New York, in 2008. One-artist exhibitions of her work include Nothing’s Notation, Anna Leonowens Gallery, Halifax (2005); Beth Letain, Fireproof Gallery, Brooklyn (2010); Heavyweight, L’escalier, Montreal (2017); Air Horn, Open Forum, Berlin (2017); and most recently The Company She Keeps, Peres Projects, Berlin (2017). Awards and residencies include a full fellowship supported by the Dedalus Foundation from the Vermont Studio Center in 2009; a Visual Art Project Grant from the Canada Council for the Arts in 2010; and a Triangle Arts Residency, Brooklyn, in 2013. Letain lives and works in Berlin.
London – Pace is delighted to present Signal Hill, an exhibition of new works by Canadian artist Beth Letain. On view from 28 June to 4 August 2018 at 6 Burlington Gardens, the exhibition is Letain’s first at Pace and will include new paintings on canvas.
Letain is a painter whose palette engages with the history of colour and abstraction. She develops a minimalist language in the legacy of Giorgio Morandi, Agnes Martin, Mary Heilmann and Bauhaus theories of colour. Her vivid compositions feature dissonant yet harmonious lines and geometric structures that explore themes of logic, system and shape. “My interest lies in the optic connotations resulting from radical association of colours and forms. I’m fascinated by what you can achieve with extremely limited resources.” she explains.
Beginning with preparatory drawings and sketch boards, Letain then translates her works onto canvas using brushstrokes that are confident and dynamic. She prepares her surfaces with layers of homemade gesso before applying brightly saturated pigments in asymmetrical graphic grids that reach the edges of our sightlines. Striking hues of matte blue, orange and red parallel rather than merge, to create powerful infinity bands that separate the work into various elements, opening the space to plural possibilities. Letain’s process is performative; each band of colour is created in a limited set of gestures before the drying process begins.
Inspired by fictional writing, Letain is an avid admirer of literature and language. The visual systems she introduces on the canvas evoke the methodology of an alphabet, creating an approach to painting that could be considered akin to those used by novelists and poets.
The title Signal Hill references a strategic location in Canada where the first wireless Morse Code signal was received – a place widely taught in history classes to Canadian students. “I like the words and the idea of an un-grandiose sounding hill where one goes to send or receive signals. For me there are some nice parallels to the act of painting or looking.”
Her most recent exhibition was presented at Peres Projects in Berlin in 2017.
Now on view at the Royal Academy is the 250th Summer Exhibition, an annual celebration of "art made now." Focusing on internationally-renowned contemporary art, this year Grayson Perry RA and a committee of fellow artists selected over 1,300 works in an array of mediums. David Hockney's new work is debuted in the exhibition, alongside work by artists such as Wolfgang Tillmans, Mike Nelson, Tracey Emin, Rose Wiley, Bruce Nauman, and Ed Ruscha. The 250th Summer Exhibition will be on view through A