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OIL ON PANEL
Portfolios: MISC PAINTINGS, January 2014 Curator Reviewed Art, RECENT WORK 2013
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Thanks for the additional information- it certainly adds to the richness of the piece.
Size 34" high, 22" wide, oil on panel
This chair was a gift made by my grandmother's sister and given to her for Christmas back in the 1920's. It was much later given to me by my grandmother after being stored for decades in "the ballroom" of my grandparents large house in Ohio. My Aunt Pauline did a lot of needlework, including crewel work curtains, upholstery, knitting and braided rugs in beautifully chosen colors. I have often mused over the design of the tree and deer in the chair as well as the feeling it exudes. It seems a deep image. I believe I learned a lot about my Great Aunt Pauline, a very creative woman, by doing a portrait of her own work. I believe that she would have been able to take her art to higher levels had she not been constrained by her time when women's place was in the home.
I’m smitten with Aunt Pauline’s Chair, but this is an example where the scale of the piece could be a significant factor in its psychological impression and content. I’m normally not very interested in seeing the frame on a painting, but this image which includes the gold wood frame seems a perfect presentation of the piece. It confines and compresses the pictorial space just a bit, and offers an intimate viewing of a personified private object. Conversely, if the actual painting was life size or on a larger scale it would have a more dramatic, albeit authoritative presence. But either way, I’m attracted to the fine detailing of the upholstery pattern and the painterly brushstrokes that appear to fluidly transverse between foreground and background. I find it interesting that the ruddy wood flooring tilts up ever so slightly, flattening the atmospheric space to rise up and meet the chair pattern. The significant amount of empty space above the chair, at the ‘head’ of the composition puts forward the idea of emptiness, or vacancy. Combined with the brocade this could also suggest a nostalgic memory or bereavement. I also particularly like the overtly figurative work titled The Letter. With an unabashed use of dotted pattern, the dress becomes a prominent object of obsession within the carefree and drifting grassy landscape. These different surface treatments could have been at formal odds if not for the skillful handling of the woman’s face and hands, which float between the detailed articulation of her outfit and the more gestural haziness of her surrounds. The letter itself, held loosely in her hand, offers the hint of an underlying story.
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