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I begin with a thin line

April 30, 2019 to June 1, 2019



I begin with a thin line of silverpoint or gold point and often finish with one. There are many of these lines within the layered gouache brushstrokes. Some are visible, some are faintly visible, and some are hidden. Unlike graphite marks, metal point cannot be erased. Visible or not, the lines are permanent. I think of each of these lines as an axis, a line of stillness and support. It can be fixed and it can shift.

The AXIS series paintings are the shapes of playing cards, lucky money envelopes and piano keys. The shapes of the FAN SUITE series paintings are based on 17th, 18th, and 19th century Chinese fans. In both series -- scaled to fit in the hand -- I paint on ultra-thin birch wood. Each panel with its own unique natural warp, possesses sculptural qualities. These objects can be understood as one understands a Chinese landscape scroll painting; equally sculpture and painting. They are 'mind landscapes' as in the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368) when painting became, “ longer just about the description of the visible world; rather acting as a means of conveying the inner landscape of the artist’s heart and mind.”*

In my surfaces I see the influence of my mother’s Chinese dreamstones. As a child I was transfixed by these thin slices of stone, mounted in carved hardwood frames, revealing inclusions and veining that resemble landscape. I am fortunate to have with me now many treasures she was able to immigrate with, and that I grew up with, including her fans. Chinese fans depict flora and landscape, suggesting that their restorative breezes could transport us to their lovely fresh scented locations.

Made at an intimate scale on ultra-thin panel, with thin lines of silver and gold and layers of chalky gouache, these new paintings are studies in fragility and exposure. The best moments while working are filled with trust in the connection between outside complex forces in nature and what I see as the paint flows onto the surface. Lines and brushstrokes mingle, worlds emerge and nature is evoked in service of revealing an emotional inner life.

*Charles Moffat. Mountain Water. The Art History Archive. 2008