Debora House – “Abstract #’s”

Welcome to our vernissage this Thursday evening with Debora House!

Thursday, September 29th

This show is in a way a retrospective. I arrived in Sweden in the autumn of 1994 to put down roots with my husband and daughter. I had just sold my textile company and was in search of a new way to be after spending the past two decades in San Francisco and in Bangkok. I had lived and thrived among assorted Creative’s. A life brimming with artists, architects, designers, textile showrooms, factories and studios – Sweden was a strange land. We lived in
a remote house in the archipelago where I felt isolated and particularly foreign.

Stockholm was the actual view through Ingmar Bergman’s lens. But the dark and cold of Scandinavia was not as challenging as the Nordic reserve. I had traveled to Thailand every year for twenty years and found the Asian culture to be much more understandable and inclusive. It was curious that in a sarong and sandals I could disappear into a Thai life but in Sweden I was glaringly alien. My outgoing American personality was not, in the least way, ”lagom”. The behavior I did not understand but the light I did. So I began to paint. Abstract expressionism is where I started and this became a means of figuring out my new life. The painting You Must Believe in Spring is from that time.
I eventually settled into a style and fascination with landscapes. I simply couldn’t stop painting them and there was always a painting that went over the line to surreal or abstract that didn’t make it into my exhibitions.

Now after sixteen years of painting GALLERI DUERR is showing my first exhibition of these abstract pieces. What links them together is my unrelenting interest in communication through symbols, myth, mathematics, and
language. Looking back this fascination seems appropriate, as I could not communicate in Swedish. The painting Flow has runic writing embedded in the paint and a tumbling house. This was painted after we moved temporarily to the Pacific North West and back. As was North by Not so North, which shows a crossroad.

Prove It is a graffiti version of Fermat’s last Theorem (a problem that tormented mathematicians for four hundred years before being solved.)  The Sum of Infinity is the math for the infinite. I was fascinated my daughter’s homework and asked her to do the equations on works-in-progress. The two ghostly paintings The Writings on the Wall and Dream of a Red Kimono are from a series when I was feeling my way through the loss of my ‘life’s work’ with
textiles. The kimonos are hanging on rods, suspended or trapped in corners. The fish in The Writings on the Wall represents the subconscious trying to convey a message but the moment has past, the robe remains but the geisha (a nourishing energy) is gone. Seed pearls are embroidered on the robe and small watch parts are floating on the water. A line and hook are hovering with a fragment in Latin.

The dreamscapes Northern Lights and Chengdu are impressions of the landscapes obscured by weather. The best time of year to see the Northern lights are usually when there is too much cloud cover to observe them. I arrived in the mountains in China in fog so the outlines were soft and fluid looking. Öland is made with the minimum amount of washes to suggest the lightness and the fleeting moment that is summer at the 59th parallel.

Collecting these paintings together for this show feels like I am vulnerable in a way I have never allowed myself before. Some are personal and reveal my private and talismanic symbols. The kimonos, (my Asian persona) clock parts (fear of time wasted), runes and numbers (a simple symbol that represents a complex concept) reveal my secrets and my struggles. The landscape paintings are about colour and atmosphere intended to create a sense of place, of peace and harmony. They evolved as a way to transcend language. I paint to jazz music with energy and drama in the moment but the results are calm and quiet.

I found a way, after all, to be ”lagom”.

2 thoughts on “Debora House – “Abstract #’s”

  1. Debora – Your work is wonderful and you are missed in the Bay Area. I was so glad Gay forwarded this website to me. I especially enjoyed reading your prose. Symbols and their importance do not surprise me! All the best, Susie

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