Studio 647-341-6336 in South Etobicoke, Toronto

Statement for the June 2019 show “We Are a Part of Something” at Rebecca Gallery

“The abstract paintings in this show are a creation of geometric patterns from both chance and order, of luminous plays of colour, and a softness of focus that describe ‘no place,’ nothing, and yet reveal an abstracted place in the midst of our reality.  We desire to shape and order all that we know and believe but, in the end, this is a futility and impossibility except to understand that ‘we are a part of something’ that is connected to the world.”

Notes for “We Are A Part of Something” solo exhibition of oil paintings at Rebecca Gallery, Toronto, June 2019

A work of art presents itself to viewers.  Abstract paintings in particular completely put us to work, for both artists and viewers.  What meaning can be gathered or feeling generated from the colours, rhythm, texture, brushwork and patterns?  How do we enter into, read and respond to these abstract paintings?  Uncertain about what such paintings are doing, we look for a way in.

The grids in this series of paintings are an organizing feature in composition but use of the grid is also thematic. First, grids tend to deny narrative leaving artists to focus on formal qualities such as colour, line, planes, balance, composition, repetition, movement, texture and variations on all these components.  And there is meaning in harmonious composition and the austere beauty of colour. 

Second, and thematically, the grid as structure is emblematic for me in this series of how we humans have come to see our material world as constructed with systems and natural laws, and yet we also live with so much unknown, mysteries and strangeness in the macro and micro universes of existence.  Each of my paintings is an emblem of this dichotomy with its internal orderly, structural logic, but with loosely painted brushwork and with at times random colour and line.   The work suggests chance and the unknown together with order and design.  

In the act of painting, a range of action includes moving along with decision, pulling back, stopping, starting again - a painting can even ‘take over’ and begin to create itself,  within a set of parameters such as palette, the kind of pattern, size of grid - artist on the edge of control.

These works have luminous plays of colour with a sometimes softness of focus that describe ‘no place,’ nothing, and yet reveal a feeling of place.  Most in this series have a ‘landscape’ orientation of the canvas rectangle which tends to be read as having a horizon.  You can read these as landscapes as several titles suggest. 

In the Inuktitut language the word ‘kitjaqnaaq’ refers to the feeling we have of connection to the world beyond us when standing before a glorious landscape, that “we are a part of something.”  While these paintings are more meditations than awesome landscape, they do ask you to fall into their worlds of colour, pattern and feeling. 

As to what to comprehend here, what in the end can we aim for?  We are often mysterious creatures even to ourselves, let alone others, even those closest and known to us.  Why do we do the things and think the way we do?  Really.  Plus, there is a muteness in an artwork - it works in another language not words.    And meaning is multitudinous of course in that a work of art elicits many individual responses.    Highly abstracted art especially gives plenty of room to form one’s own ideas about it as there are so few directives towards meaning from the artist compared with representational work.

This exhibition is about our human desire to shape and order as much as possible only to find, in the end, so much about this practice throws up resistance, a futility, and yet we live in this world - “we are a part of something” connected and secure.

Jennifer Joiner
May, 2019