Agnes Martin has been known to suffer from debilitating periods of psychosis. Her schizophrenia seems to contradict the clean stability of her art. It’s through this perplexing world where control and escape are one-in-the-same that Agnes’ paintings exist within very intense limits.
Martin eschews painting as a medium, except when considering it a foundation to the rest of her work. Her signature format: a six by six foot painted canvas seeks to challenge the gestural vocabulary of abstract expressionism and the repetitive nature of minimalism. Thinned paint travels down imperfect hand-drawn lines, showing signs of slippage over the border of what is a sign of breath and freedom for Martin’s work.
Towards the end of her life, Martin began to re-include shapes in her work. Her last painting, The Rain (1960) consisted of five horizontal bands. Three grey bands pass over the drawn lines, segmenting them from the off-white foundation. The darker pant runs unevenly across the canvas as if there were rain falling off of a windshield. This air of urgency coupled with emphatic directness perfectly demonstrates the antithetical nature of Martin’s work.