With no hint of figuration beneath its richly encrusted surface, Shimmering Substance is one of Pollock’s first completely nonrepresentational works. The artist squeezed the paint directly from the tube onto the canvas, then manipulated it with a palette knife, or maybe a finger, to create open loops that swirl to the edges. The painting is from his Sounds in the Grass series of seven canvases executed in a palette much lighter than in any of his previous work. The allusion to light and nature was perhaps a response to the rural environment of East Hampton, where he had moved the previous year. Shimmering Substance has the character of a sun-dappled summer day.
Gallery label from Jackson Pollock: A Collection Survey, 1934-1954, November 22, 2015–May 1, 2016.