At Both Ends
Charles Jenks suggested that contemporary artists have taken a diverse tradition and consolidated it with what he terms “free style classicism.” The category provides a convenient way of situating my work; paintings and drawings that are solidly anchored in a confluence of traditions. Each one of these traditions themselves containing a similar accumulation of influence provides a wealth of precedent from which to draw. Referencing a painterly tradition often rendered in diminutive terms (that of both women and watercolors) allows me to historically anchor contemporary figures- place an otherwise isolated image of an individual (a young woman at a sewing machine) into a narrative from which she is often excluded.
I have chosen to render figures in a highly representational manner for the above mentioned reason but also because I want my paintings and drawings address an experience of our surroundings through our bodies. The actual physical shape, the way that the body occupies space, the way that, as a form, it reacts to it’s surroundings, and the way that society reacts to it as a body, is an extremely important consideration in my work. I have chosen to work in a representational manner because we do not experience ourselves abstractly but through our bodies, which, despite any claims of post-modern fragmentation, remain, for the most part, in tact.
My drawings are largely done on BFK paper with charcoal. I’ve come to appreciate the subtlety of this medium and believe that it is reflective of the subtlety of bodily changes and emotions. The nuanced color differences in charcoal as well as surface tension can be worked with labor intensity or spontaneity.
Most of my paintings are transparent watercolors. Working to retain the stark white surrounding, while working to create a certain luminosity with multiple transparent passages of paint. The shallow pictorial space is intended to create a sense of involvement for the viewer despite their two-dimensionality. Two recent works are acrylic on watercolor paper. These pieces depart from soft transitions and concentrate on plainer aspects of the figures. -- M.L. Rouleau