Pat Paxson Artist’s Statement May 20, 2016
Pat Paxson’s passion for making paintings continues, combined with her interest in people. She says “This year I’m very excited about developing a method of image making that includes the inter-mixing of free-hand drawing with ‘blank’ areas on the canvas as well as areas of color. The integration of these elements in each painting results in work that pushes the boundaries of what we ‘see’ – moments of ‘conflicting’ perceptions coalesce into a manageable image, stretching both perceptions and interpretations within the operation of making sense of the overall image”
Her interests include a fascination with improvisation, which leads to development of pictorial ways to indicate personal and interpersonal energies in terms of energies of lines and colors. The paintings maintain a delicate balance between abstraction and figuration. This process of making work is at the heart of its meaning in that there is a strong connection between the spontaneity and layering of dreams and memories, and the spontaneity and layering in her work, which is informed further by meditation, her musical background (which has heightened an awareness of harmony and melody) and an interest in psychology.
The paintings consist of acrylic paint on canvas, occasionally including other media. The original palimpsest of preliminary drawings is then worked into with layers of paint. The distinctive lines and marks that are a hallmark of her work are the remnants of these under-drawings. The lines and marks contribute to feelings of mood and energy, they provide emphases, and they contribute flow lines to help the eye move around the paintings. Recently, they have also developed into marks and lines that suggest a story in themselves. Her initiating methods connect intuition, and spontaneity; avoiding a ‘rational’ working process, and adding a sense of rhythm and story-telling.
The dynamic underlay of marks is an unplanned quest, leading to hints and indications of figures (rather than representations of particular people seen in certain times and places). As images are teased out from these underlying energetic and unplanned marks, the result is re-thinking the depiction of the figure: scattering borders and boundaries; questioning the gaze; using breaks, flows and intensities of energy. Improvisation is the key as she reaches for no-longer just copy/distortion of forms but formlessness – the wordlessness of emotion, intuition, imagination. This formlessness uses clues, resulting in implied images with suggestions of qualities of individual mood and trans-individual interactions, seen in uncertain time.
Paxson says “For me the attraction is the (partial) applicability of the word ‘formless’ to such ‘formless’ phenomena as energy, curiosity, longing, beauty, mystery, as well as nascent ideas, in other words the appearance of ‘ideas’ before they are put into (semiotic) ‘objects’.
Paxson has been influenced by a wide range of artists, for example the work of Francis Bacon, whose images depend on improvisation, overall skill and strength of composition, as well as dealing with complicated issues relating to the human condition. Other influences include painters such as Arshile Gorky, J-M Basquiat, abstract expressionists; also theoretical writings of authors as Anton Ehrenzweig; more recently Jonathan Fineberg, David Maclagan, and Raphael Rubenstein with his idea of ‘Provisional Painting’.
In Paxson’s paintings, thoughts and feelings are elicited by the choice and disposition of marks and colors. The painting does not present a ‘snapshot in time’ of things as they would be seen in three-dimensional space, but becomes, rather, an object in real space itself, to be contemplated over real time. Unlike the fictional time/space of conventional figurative painting, the real space/time of the present object provokes irrepressibly automatic subjective projection and response for the maker and viewer alike.
This way of working with the relationship of the figures being without preconception allows the viewer the freedom of objective, undirected perception and interpretation. The story becomes not that of the painting (or the artist), but of the viewer’s own imaginative creation. The paintings have ‘emerged’ as it were out of unconscious process: thus presented, they come to life as they ‘merge’ into the viewer’s own subjective consciousness. The task of the painting is to exist effectively on the edge between ‘intuition’ and ‘cognition, recognition’.