I am delighted today to be featuring an insanely talented female artist, who not only is local to me, but whose expansive, vibrant and striking canvases I helped frame as I trained as a framer @ptolemymann.art
Driven by an insatiable desire to explore colour, in every facet and understanding, Mann finds colour synonymous with life and power. She calls her use of clean sharp lines and colour-fields ‘chromatic minimalism’.
“It was fairly clear right from the beginning that colour was central. This began while I was at central Saint Martins college of art in 1992 with one day a week devoted to colour theory. The only course or college that offered such a thing. It was clear I had a naturally rather bold and expressive approach to using colour which quickly became underpinned by a deep knowledge of colour theory.”
She is currently selling incredible, saturated and vibrant painted works as part of the Artists Support Pledge on her instagram.
She is exhibiting next year at the Alvar Aalto House near Paris in June 2021 and at Art Geneve @artgeneve in January - both with Taste Contemporary
PTOLEMY, Where are you answering these questions from?
I’m sitting at the desk in my studio in East Sussex just in front of my giant circular window which is open during a very hot August day
SO CLOSE TO ME! Perhaps a tricky one - how would you describe your work in three words?
Colourful abstract expressive
Tell me about your artistic process, and how each work comes to be? How do you know when a work is complete?
There are two strands to my current studio practice – I’ve been hand dyeing and weaving wall based artworks for over 25 years but recently – and in the last 2 years I’ve been painting on paper.
The process of making behind these two ways of working is completely different. Weaving is a very slow and technical art making practice it takes at least 2 months to make even a small artwork – a series of actions in a very specific sequence. Winding a warp of white threads, dip dyeing them in boiling vats of colour; winding on the warp threads to the back beam of the loom and then threading/reeding up the loom, followed by tying on under tension and then the methodical and repetitive movement of beating the cloth and throwing the shuttle across as the horizontal weft threads overlap the vertical warp threads. Finishing with cutting off the cloth and stretching over canvas frames.
JUST INCREDIBLE - AND YOUR PAINTING?
My approach to painting is a much more immediate and spontaneous – broad gestural sweeps of intuitive colour placed on watercolour paper. But of course the act of painting replicates the act of dyeing in many ways and it’s been exciting to see the link emerge between the two. Knowing when to stop a painting; judging when it is complete is very hard whereas a woven piece has a distinct moment when it is finished. Unlike painting it’s impossible to remove/add anything once the piece is complete. I think knowing when a painting is complete is an art in itself. Its extremely easy to go too far.
What would you say is the most significant aspect of your art?
Absolutely the COLOUR…. This links everything I do. Its become the cornerstone of my work.
AND HOW DID THIS RELATIONSHIP WITH COLOUR COME ABOUT?
It was fairly clear right from the beginning that colour was central. This began while I was at central Saint Martins college of art in 1992 with one day a week devoted to colour theory. The only course or college that offered such a thing. It was clear I had a naturally rather bold and expressive approach to using colour which quickly became underpinned by a deep knowledge of colour theory.
What is your studio like PTOLEMY?
I was lucky enough to rent a fantastic studio in Borough Market for 14 years and when I moved to Sussex I was able to build a 48 sqm timber clad studio in my garden which is just heavenly. It’s a total refuge and there is nowhere in the world I would rather be on any given day. I start early as possible and work for 8-12 hours depending on what’s happening – I often work weekends too – you could say I am obsessed with making art. I listen to audio books and podcasts while I’m weaving and music the rest of the time.
What questions drive your practice Ptolemy? What are the focuses and themes of your work?
I have an insatiable desire to explore colour in all its facets and I never tire of the straight line. For me colour is life and it’s an extremely powerful (and often underestimated) tool. I love what I call CHROMATIC MINIMALISM – clean sharp lines and colourfields full of intense saturated colour.
Ptolemy, if you could own one piece of artwork in the world, as if money or likelihood was no issue, what would it be and why? Where would you hang it?
Definitely a Mark Rothko painting – I find them deeply powerful and exquisitely intense…. And I would commission James Turrell to build me a space for it.
If you could have a meal with any artist from any time:
a) what would the meal be?
…..lunch atthe Four Seasons in New York in 1958
b) who would it be with?
… with Mark Rothko
…to ask him why he pulled the commission
Do you have any upcoming shows/ exhibitions/ incentives we should know about?
Several things have been postponed until next year – I will be showing at the Alvar Aalto house near Paris next June and also at Art Geneve in January – both with Taste Contemporary. I’m in the early stages of planning a book… watch this space
Who is your favourite historical female artist?
There are a few I’m slightly obsessed with right now… Helen Frankethaler, Lee Krasner, Emma Kunz, my own mum’s paintings which I have been studying and framing. Agnes Pelton is another one I’m really into right now…
WHO ARE YOUR Favourite current practicing female artists and their instagram handles?
OMG that’s a long list!!!
In no particular order and for now it’s:
Adie Russell: @adie_russell (check out her COVERS – video pieces on her website – I think she’s one of the cleverest artists I know)
Domenica Brockmann: @minimalistabstraction
Francesca Colussi Cramer: @francescacramer
Marie Lenclos: @marielenclos_painting
Alison McKenna: @alisonmckenna12
Orlanda Broom: @orlandabroom
Claire Alexander: @claireamstudio
Caroline Hall: @carolinehallpaintings
Zarah Hussain: @zarahhussain
Patricia Paludanus: @patricia_paludanus
Lauren Bell Brown (a jeweller): @lauren_bellbrown
Chloe Danielle: @chloe__danielle
Claude Vergez: @claudevergez
Charley Peters: @charleypeters