The work of Tracy Girdler depends on the skill and art of good observers.
“The eye,” wrote Brian O’Doherty, “is a very sensitive organ, even a noble one… The eye is a touchy acquaintance with which it is necessary to maintain good relations. It is often questioned with some nervousness, and its reactions are accepted respectfully. It must be waited on while it observes, observation being its perfectly specialized function”.
To understand Tracy’s paintings it is necessary that the Eye (a connoisseur par excellence) and the Spectator (a conceptually active subject) work together dynamically – a high-speed game of information exchange, guided by the artist’s hand.
The painting of Tracy Girdler is technically close to the Informal school, from which it has taken the power, the ability to understand color as the subject, and the will to incorporate “rough” elements in the painting of the True. This does not mean depicting what it appears to be, but rather coming as close as possible to what it really is – as when the artist feels the need to absorb into the painting pieces of material taken from the real, like rich woven fabrics which in Tracy’s work blend with the color which covers them and owns them.
The painting is sovereign, sensitive matter that refuses to be molded; then the mechanism is reversed: Tracy’s images do not take their form from the color, but rather it is the color that holds the soul of the form, and the artist is given the task of freeing it through the act of painting.
Tracy’s forms are either images of a present which the artist lives in a fully aware and active way, or images that respond to an emotional truth lived in the past; images etched in the memory like sensitive photos of an instant or of a concept. They represent experiences deeply lived, to the point of being able to take out of them pure painting, to sublimate their effect.
The artist paints the comings and goings that have characterized her life as a traveler: what she has encountered, what every meeting has aroused in her, and which Tracy seems to live forever with incredible surprise and untouchable wonder.
Girdler is a citizen of the world and her art is witness to it.
Then, then there is Rome – her Rome. Her look at Rome and its doors is that of a jealous lover, who wants to share only with those who can understand the beauty and the meaning of closed doors: ancient glories, ancient miseries, superb craftsmanship – a piece of the history of humanity that does not contemplate emotions halfway, which is why Tracy loves it.
And Tracy loves by means of her painting, managing the image with a gesture that etches the essence of form on its bearer, without any possibility of betrayal, distraction or excuse. What happens on the canvas is a precise expression of the act of the encounter, and the work itself becomes a synthesis of an event described in a selection of pure colors, which rarely mingle except in tone and when the line becomes open and charged, their combination with black and white understood as saturated pigments. It is a symbolic moment: the mind is appeased and the memory enjoys the time.
The construction of her work is geometric, even when what seems to come out of the painting is an abstract impression. Tracy is incredibly free because she is always fully aware. She walked the streets of Rome too many times not to impose on her own artistic signature the accuracy of the old Roman cities’ north-south and east-west main roads, guides and methods of travel.
The sense of voyage is the key to Tracy Girdler’s painting and to her ongoing research. In her there lives in a strong sense of history, of the countries visited, of the people she meets. Tracy lets herself be fascinated: she lives, she dwells, she depicts, and then leaves again and searches anew.
The fragments of the history she meets along the way are a constant invitation and motivation for Tracy’s painting, just as Benjamin wrote with respect to antiquity:
“… They are like thieves hiding around the corner, ready to attack passers-by with their guns and rob them of their certainties.”