Juxtaposing fields of color produce spatial dynamics that depend on dabbing, calligraphic gestures or the defined edges of stripescapes and colorscapes.
THE WORKS OF ELIZABETH PALAY are an authentic variation of the famous American post-war New York School known as the Post-Painterly Abstraction Movement with protagonists (Mark Rothko, Joseph Albers, Richard Lohse, Max Bill, Barnett Newmann, Kenneth Noland, Morris Lewis) whose programmatic paintings are manifest historic specimens of abstract painting in the second half of the 20th century that have not to this day been surpassed in the level of innovation.
And while Noland espoused the view that the colour in pictures speaks for itself a sole content behind which there is nothing else, Albers, Louis and Rothko were more inclined towards an intuitive use of the tonal scale, with awareness that colour is a metaphor of moods and relations and can even be a carrier of more subtle dimensions of reality. This line of thinking about colour is evident in Elizabeth Palay’s work, evoking to an extent the now remote Bauhaus and its idea that colour is an intuitive tool for describing moods. This way of thinking about colour was brought to the United States by the Bauhaus artist Joseph Albers and it had a long term impact on American art enduring to this day.
Objectivity is in order in looking and evaluating each new opus built on stylistic premises of geometric abstraction or post painterly abstraction, as this is one of the chief battlefields of styles in the art history of the second half of the 20th century, when from our point of view it may seem that everything has already been painted and that it is hard to say something new with painting. Elizabeth Palay, however, succeeds in avoiding repeating the familiar in the use of colours and values and creating very personal colour combinations. The method is slow and contemplative, with each nuance carefully thought out rather than being random or spontaneous. Exceptionally intricate colour combinations and mixing of colours that precedes them are often, for artists with these stylistic inclinations, as demanding as trying to arrange colour squares on the Rubik cube, and where the smallest degree of spontaneity may destroy the entire tonal composition and with it the painting. This method of painting is an endurance test for the strongest, although at first it may seem childishly simple to an uninformed observer.
The effective dynamic, created by using controlled widths of horizontal banks of colours and different combinations of colours, makes Elizabeth Palay’s paintings small colour-charged generators of positive energy, evoking to an extent the Bauhaus theories of colour but exhibiting also a touch of Noland’s absence of programmatic references: “colour is the only motif and structure in the painting, in the composition” (Karl Ruhrberg). Her paintings, somewhat impersonal in their appeal, are at another level so full of positive, vibrating energy, that they will draw the observer in and help him identify with their spirit.
Iva Körber, Gallerija Mazuth Zagreb, Croatia, 2010