Edda Renouf American, b. 1943

Renouf’s meditative and tactile work is based on a deep engagement with her materials.  In her attention to chromatic subtley, and pared down geometries, her art has often been related to Minimalism, however, her organic pictorial vocabulary, the lyricism of her forms and her exploration of process result in work that is profound and unique.  Fascinated by the physical qualites of linen, Renouf removes and repositions threads from the weave of her canvases revealing patterns and linear motifs.  This process exposes the inherent structure of her supports, which become not simply grounds onto which an image is imposed, but rather integral components of her compositions. The removed and reapplied threads create geometric yet organic shapes with the simplicity and pattern suggestive of a musical score. She subtly applies thin glazes and then sands the surface, making visible the fibres and blemishes in the life of the fabric itself.


Renouf’s technique of removing threads and incising paper brings about juxtapositions which give life to each work. Contrasts are made between the geometry and the organic flexibility of the linen fibre of the canvas; the difference between the crisp scraped lines in drawings against uneven and organic incised lines; or the contrast between the clearly defined lines created by removed and applied threads versus the aleatory, cloud-like areas of color that have been sanded.  This resulting play of positive and negative also reveals the artists’s temporal process of production;  she has asserted that her works are a “record of the days, weeks, months and seasons when they were created.”  Temporaility is a consistent theme in her art, recurring rhythms recall the cycles of nature, the movement of sound waves, the experience of music, all of which are inspiration for the forms and repitition that Renouf acheives her in her paintings and drawings.  The titles of her works point also to other themes,  in particular the four natural elements which have a direct connection to her painting and drawing materials. The abstract structures revealed are metaphors, signs that relate to air, water, earth and fire which are also symbolised with corresponding colours: greys in varying tones; cobalt and ultramarine blues; siennas; oxide red; oranges, ochres and umbers.  Her solo exhibition at Annely Juda Fine Art in 2017 featured a group of works marking a new direction for Renouf with tall, narrow, vertical paintings made of several panels arranged in diptychs and triptychs.  Renouf felt that the narrow and vertical panels directly related to the human body, mirroring that of the viewer confronting the works.  “When standing before the painting my eyes were then led to read up and down the painting giving me a physical sense of movement.”


Renouf was born in Mexico in 1943 and settled in the USA in 1957.  She attended Sarah Lawrence College, studied in New York and Paris and Columbia University. Renouf has exhibited widely in the United States as well as in France, Germany, Belgium and many other countries.  Her work is in the collections of numerous major museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MOMA and Whitney Museums in New York; the Art Institude of Chicago; the Centre Pompidou, Paris and the British Museum in London.