Helen Miranda Wilson: Stripes
March 26 - April 26, 2008
In February of 2006, Helen Miranda Wilson began to paint stripes, laid out in horizontal lines of emphatic, local color. Each line has a sureness and straightness without being rigidly defined. The paint is not applied gesturally, but mistakes are allowed and are left to be seen. No two colors are alike, and are randomly chosen, applied in unregimented ripples of light and dark. These tonal alternations are as satisfying to see as they are when found in nature. Each picture contains a scrolled, narrative sequence that marked time as it passed, while the artist worked down the surface, covering it from top to bottom, one color at a time.
These are simple, convincing paintings that use the same techniques and small format for which the artist has always been known. The surfaces are matte and yet have a velvety, open quality because the artist uses oil paint with no added medium and applies no final overcoat of varnish. The edges of the unframed panels retain the drips of primer, sanded smooth; they are meant to be seen as part of the object. Wilson typically works wet-into-wet, blending the paint into itself with fan brushes. The colors often drift into each other, like a mist of breath, visible in the air before one's face on a cold day. She has used this technique to blur the lines between one section of a painting and the next, since the early 1970s.
It's no coincidence that the organic appearance of these transitions resembles the markings on animals, birds and insects that serve as their camouflage, resembling as they do the patterns of light, wind and water. Wilson now lives year round by the sea, in the town she grew up in. Her work continues to be informed by her environment, although there is no recognizable subject matter in her images. She experiences a powerful, oblique influence from the beauty of the many creatures in her life. She has kept honeybees, successfully, for the last nine years. She also has two tiger cats and a small flock of chickens. Every spring she sees the river herring, with their striped backs, come up from the Atlantic to spawn in local ponds and rivers.
These are her muses, as well as the many other artists who have used long bars of color: Paul Klee, Bridget Riley, Kenneth Noland, John McLaughlin, Donna Flax, Myron Stout, and Agnes Martin are important to her, as are the many anonymous sowers, knitters and weavers who have covered us, clothed us, and spread rugs like forest floors beneath our feet, in patterns that give us back our primitive selves.
Also on View:
Yvonne Jacquette: Metropolitan Area Triptych and other works
March 26 - April 26, 2008