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Identity in Art: Six New Works

Meet the Artist

I’ve been preparing to take works to the Affordable Art Fair in New York (May 6 through 9, 2010), and, as ever, working to a deadline has produced its fair amount of stress. As usual, however, this process has also propelled my understanding of my artistic landscape, which is an emotional and aesthetic one, and the loops and connections that this has with one’s own identity. My paintings describe me, and my experiences, as surely as a biography of words. If all the clues from all my paintings were added together, then it would identify me in time and space as surely as a DNA analysis. As my artistic journey continues, it is imperative that I keep on making new journeys into myself, even to those places that I hide, and disguise.

This series of paintings describe my identity as it formed as a child, but also directs the viewer to look and see the world differently, to look and see what I am emphasizing. I distinctly remember *seeing* before I could comprehend what I was seeing, before I had a grammar in my brain to name and organize. The images are full of bright colors, they move around next to each other without reference to perspective, they are full of intensity and vitality. The ‘space between’ is indistinct, unimportant, and half-remembered. Each imaginary creature was as real as a ‘factual’ creature, I was too young to make a distinction. These remembrances pre-date my verbal development.

Look Up! is a passionate, powerful painting, with the saturated colors that I find so exciting. I have always had great stores of energy and a sensitive but single-minded nature that has saved me from many difficult situations, kept me going through terrible events, and always offering me a glimpse of something beautiful. Observing such beauty is our moral duty. We may, after all, be the only observers of this in the universe. When all else fails, when all else is gone, if we are still witness to the beauties of the universe, then we belong and we are a miracle. This painting tells the viewer to look and really SEE. In this work, I reduce and simplify my expression: simplicity is eloquent.
I Remember is a piece that places me in the 1970s as a child. The style is referential to the Disney animations I used to lose myself in, at the ‘pictures’ as we called it then, as I grew up and started to understand the world.
In painting this picture, I wanted to convey this sense, that we could understand the secrets and messages of the forest, if only we could decode their language, which hangs tantalizingly out of reach. The bright yellow represents the brightest sun, and also rationality that threatens to obscure this connection.
It is a painting about the remembrance of childhood, and the secret and personal lives we led that were so formative.
I painted the trees as geometric squares first, then applied layers of yellow to occlude them in places, using sandpaper to smooth and also texture the surface.

I remember

Catching Clouds is the view from my studio, laying on my back and looking up on the first fresh Spring day this year. The trees so elegantly catch the clouds, each of the branches and trunks being comprised of twisted primary colors, like yarn from old, brightly colored sweaters. In this painting, I can almost feel the breeze on my face and the freshness of optimism as we dream of a brighter future. I viewed the world from a different perspective, and modeled this painting around that perfection of childhood wonders, the soap bubble, a marvel of art, science and nature.
Sunrise is a further level of abstraction with disconnected pieces that form a non-objective memory. As far as possible, I aimed to express *feeling* through visual language, and tastes and smells, as I, in my head, walk through memories of stroll through trees, as the sun rises: a happy, optimistic sensation. This memory is placed in time by the language of the colors I use, not only that of sunshine laying across branches in the early morning, but the pinks and reds of childhood sweets, and fruits. A fundamental inspiration for this painting were actually the landscapes by Brueghel, who works catalogues the lives of ‘ordinary’ people and now, to me, seem a most perfect depiction of memory. Sunrise
Walk With Me Walk With Me continues my exploration of archetypal myths as they relate to safey/danger and the breaching of boundaries.There are nursery rhymes and stories from medieval Europe of sneaking over the walls at night around the newly-developed walled towns/castles into the unguarded country that surrounded them. In fairytales, it is often in forests that most dreadful and terrifying events happen, the trees being at once threatening, or protecting. In Walk With Me, the trees are comprised of electric colors, shapes and lines that symbolize the myriad dangers that we are exposed to as we leave home, and move through the world. It also depicts the compulsion to explore the wonders and revelations that await us, if we dare to walk the path less travelled.
Suburban Lens brings this series to the present day, in my own journeys. At night, I often walk with my dog through the many park-strewn paths around the suburban town in which I live. Here, the sky is enormous, glowing blues and indigos, edged by low black silhouettes of houses, trees and bridges that are dressed with multi-colored jewel-like lights. Sometimes the trees are lit from behind by late-night floodlights over a soccer match, as if draped in silver. There are few other people out at this time, and I can watch the evening spin, if I gaze upwards. This painting is based around an impressionistic rendition of the results of a long-exposure lens over suburbia. This time, I am staying still, the sky and earth are the ones taking the journey. Suburban Lens (Final Version!)

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  • Cristina Manole May 3, 2010, 3:19 am

    Such a beautiful, insightful blog post… loved it, and it really gave a glimpse into your soul.
    I liked all the paintings but found Sunrise stunning.
    I wish you all the best,

  • Annick McKenzie May 3, 2010, 12:21 pm

    very deep and sensitive blog Alison….my favourite are Catching Clouds and Look Up..very different moods I know , but connected with them.
    All the best for the exhibition…knock them out !

  • Gail Allen May 3, 2010, 2:35 pm

    Alison, Love these new pieces. My favorites are Catching Clouds and Walk With Me – which I could totally relate to. The imagery in your writing is beautiful, looking forward to seeing more.

  • Alison May 3, 2010, 3:57 pm

    Thank you all for your comments. Explaining works can be difficult, but it is a worthwhile exercise, I think….