Like the broken strings of tennis net, the interwoven grid in Supernova, a print by Pauline Aitken, appears to have been ripped apart as if by the forceful impact of a ball. The rose pink net contrasts vividly against a bright turquoise background. In the space beyond the rip, Aitken creates an effect in which the background appears to shimmer with abstract patterns. Her depiction of dynamic semi-abstract forms and use of an astronomical title ties Supernova to a perfect visual association of an exploding star, bursting with force across the universe. The composition sets up a palpable tension between the strings of a once tightly strung net, and its distended lines now pulled apart by an invisible violent force.
Pauline Aitken was born in Bedford. She studied at the Slade School of Art (1962–64), winning the Slade Etching Prize in 1965. She has exhibited in group shows including Young Contemporaries (Royal Academy, 1964) and the Bradford International Print Biennale (1968–69). Her first solo show was held at the Curwen Gallery in London in 1966.
Based in Suffolk, Aitken exhibits her work regularly at Jill Bishop Contemporary Art in Halesworth. Her work focuses on forms and ideas based upon botanical and zoological processes. During 2002–2003, she undertook a research residency at the University of Cambridge, where she produced prints based on the study of plant tissue. More recently, also at the University, she has worked in the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience on 'Cardio-Active', a project funded by the Wellcome Trust, that explores the form and function of the human heart, in context also with the foxglove plant that has been used since the 18th century for the treatment of some heart conditions.
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