At my polite request the artist generously e-mailed me eleven sets of her drawings with no captions. I want to share examples of her art in the order she e-mailed it. First on her list is a Black Set made up by four drawings.
followed by Blue Series comprising of seven robust variations.
The two share optical weight of imagined material, a characteristic to be challenged by a quite a number of subsequent drawings that focused on developing gentler relationship between the ground and the mark.
The above is one of twenty six Chine Colle Drawings, while not abandoning invented abstraction they introduce elements of landscape. This beautiful chord of three hues delights in its own power to make a metaphoric tree, sky and light. If it were words, I would say that it is a gnomic verse. It is confidently positioned on both abstraction and representation, free to make its own choice how.
These two are from the set of thirty seven titled Drawing. The elegant simplicity of the three summary shapes on pink ground guesses a landscape. The other is. Both imagined and observed nature express joy competing for space avoiding conflict.The artist confidently follows instinct as to which concept of image will suit best her “delayed interpretation”(her term). Abstraction and mimetic narrative appear at time on their own, at other times together in the same composition. I suppose it is that freedom forged by a number of Modernists, including F Kline and Cy Twombly. Diane Henshaw is equally inspired by observing everyday being as she is by other art, especially music. She devoted forty one images to the set called Drawing Music.
The significance of a rhythm is about to dominate when Henshaw draws while listening to music.
By now, even this small selection should suffice as evidence of a quality that remains stable whatever subject, means or inspiration. Henshaw has a strong inner vision, by which I mean ability to adapt, not replace, her visual means to different mood, atmosphere or stylistic combinations. That ability is her style. It is strong enough to cope with a very different sources of motivation or intentions. It will be put to the test, when she encounters different culture, unfamiliar landscapes.
In a deliberate choice of one flat summarily coloured large shapes and the other bearing incisions like calligraphy and descriptive definition I illustrate her style, her voice. In a wonderous humility she trusts her instinct to keep the composition alive.
These two are from Henshaw’s Envelope Set. Compared to the Drawing Music these are not to translate sound into a mark or a colour. They present a world made of mark, shapes, hues, calligraphy on an abstract ground, content to exist nowhere in particular. The one on the left is akin a view from a window or under an arch into a garden. The other is more like an indoor still life. Their mood is peaceful. The next set, India, brings in some turbulence.
India set is made up of two Orissa sets and Sanskriti set. Seventeen drawings made up Orissa set A2 are visibly related to earlier work, namely Black Set and Drawing Music. The set betrays insecurity that forges almost dutiful working with a small number of motifs and colours.The second part of the India Set Orissa is on A3 size.
The asymmetry’s glorious confidence charms the dark and light, full and empty, to create a happy mood, which is absent from the rest of the set of thirteen drawings. Sanskriti set brings in colours again.
My sample above indicates abandonment of abstraction, however, majority of the forty seven drawings are semi – abstract. Then they are two Mayo sets. Mayo Set of seventeen large works appears in her studio shot as abstract and heroic.
The second Mayo Set is dated 2012/13 and comprises of thirty two images evoked by the landscape.
The colour is given free reign over and over, sometimes exuberantly so in the Memory Drawing. It is a set of twenty three reminiscences in either multicoloured or black and white images – below is a lovable meme from the Envelope Set.
I have seen her exhibition The Leftovers curated by Hugh Mulholland at the University of Ulster in 2012. It was shown before that in Tokyo, 2010. Her objects were like jewells.