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Rachel Glittenberg in her studio. On the left is Introspection (220x140cms), mentioned in the article

Rachel Glittenberg in her studio. On the left is Introspection (220x140cms), mentioned in the article

Meet Rachel Glittenberg, artist

Rachel Glittenberg is one of the 24 artists with work on show at Hastings Arts Forum from today (Wednesday 2 May) through to Sunday 13 May. The Festival 15 show has been curated to celebrate 15 years of Hastings Arts Forum and contains work from established Hastings artists like Angie Braven and Gus Cummins through to artists like Colden Drystone who is on the first rung of his art career. Glittenberg is somewhere between those two poles. Erica Smith talks to the artist about her work.

I first saw Rachel Glittenberg’s work about a year ago in a busy exhibition at Gratitude in Norman Road. When I met her at her studio last Friday I remarked that I couldn’t spot any of the paintings from that show and she replied with a smile, “they all sold!”

3 paintings by Rachel Glittenberg

Top: I’m Not Afraid, I Was Born To Do This, 2018 (90 x9 0cm) Middle: Two Wings, 2018 (60 x 60cm) – both in Festival 15 Bottom: Love Thy Neighbour Nº 1, 2017 (58. 5x 51.5cm)

In the last twelve months Glittenberg has had work in nine exhibitions, some solo, some group shows, including the Sussex Open at the Towner. I can understand why her paintings are popular. Her work focuses on the female form, but it is painterly rather than illustrative. The figures sit or stand, slightly awkwardly, and engage you with uncompromising expressions. She paints in oils and loves colour and texture.“I studied at Wimbledon and we were  encouraged to draw from life. I still love life drawing.”

She’s fascinated by figures that stand outside the norm. Amongst other reference materials, her studio includes prints of Diane Arbus photographs, traditional costume and images of tribal women in ceremonial dress. She began her art career painting abstracts, and has only focussed on figurative work for the last ten years. Her bold use of colour, texture and pattern make her work accessible without being bland.

Like a Diane Arbus photograph, you feel like you can have a dialogue with these figures and take time getting to know them. Their lives may not have been easy, they might be vulnerable, but they are not victims. You can look at them and engage with their story without getting bored. She describes them as “being comfortable with their awkwardness”.

The two paintings included in the Festival 15 exhibition – I’m Not Afraid, I Was Born To Do This and Two Wings – have winged figures as their subjects. I ask her why. “I use recurring symbols in my work – the wings represent metamorphosis and transformation.”

Glittenberg is interested in story-telling and wants to explore this more in her work. She’s also excited about working on a large scale. In the photograph at the top of this article, the painting behind her to the left, Introspection, is one of two large scale pieces that she’s produced recently and she is keen to continue working on a large format. The life-size figure sits in a forest, and a red line around the bottom of the painting protects her. The line represents the pattern at the hem of a traditional Norwegian skirt. It is no surprise that Glittenberg has Norwegian heritage, or that this painting explores Nordic culture and myth.

00oilpaintingIt is always a delight to look around an artist’s studio – at the squeezed out tubes of oil paint and the delicious mix of colours on a palette. As well as the print-outs of photographs, there are postcards of work by favourite painters, including one by Tom Hammick. Rachel has always loved his work and when she moved to Hastings four years ago, she was delighted to discover he was another local artist. Hammick’s work also features in the Festival 15 show. We are lucky to have so many talented artists amongst the residents of our seaside town.

Festival 15 is on at Hastings Arts Forum until Sunday 13 May. There is a series of talks and events during the two weeks – see previous HOT article, Festival 15 at Hastings Arts Forum and the Forum’s schedule of events for details.

You can read the Festival 15 catalogue below:

Inspiration and reference materials in Rachel Glittenberg’s studio

Inspiration and reference materials in Rachel Glittenberg’s studio

Posted 12:04 Wednesday, May 2, 2018 In: Arts News


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