At the heart of the work of Kirsten Duncombe is an abiding interest in materiality and abstraction. Varied media, including: printmaking, drawing, painting, and, collage are used to explore how chance and the power of the ambiguous can provoke a unique visceral response in the viewer. Pouring, layering and cutting reveal the unexpected, mysterious, and unconventional, as elements are positioned and repositioned to create these intimate works.
A passionate and experienced art educator, Duncombe’s work is informed by the post-painterly abstractionists, (including Helen Frankenthaler and Ellsworth Kelly), surrealism and minimalism. More notably, her interest in the abstract goes beyond the familiar Western 20th Century tradition, to include a scholarly knowledge of abstract principles that stretch back millennia and reference the profound human connection to non-representative form. Sources as diverse as pre-historic petroglyphs, Tibetan beadwork, Navajo weavings and particularly the elusive tradition of abstract Tantric paintings from Rajasthan, India are used for inspiration.
This is abstraction in its broadest sense, revealing a common thread through history, bypassing language, crossing cultural borders and linking to something elementally human. Drawing on these themes, Duncombe’s works explore how non-objective form and materiality can be used as a meditation on the possibility and mystery that are inherent in the world we live in but also deep within each of us.
Words by Vanessa Hardy