Real Art Ways
March – July 2016
Two Coats of Paint
Amy Simon Fine Art
365 Artists 365 Days
365 Artists 365 Days
On January 1, 2014, Frank Juarez Gallery and Greymatter Gallery launched the 365 Artists 365 Days Project to the world. What started as a way to spotlight contemporary artists daily from across the country blossomed into getting the attention of artists from across the globe such as Germany, Slovenia, Australia, Russia, London, Israel and the United Kingdom.
Alyse Rosner, studio view
Briefly describe the work you do.
All of my paintings begin on a lustrous bright white sheet of yupo with graphite rubbing of wood grain from the pressure treated decking behind my kitchen. Both the wood and paper are man made: improved upon. This simultaneously toxic and natural impression is captured on synthetic Japanese paper made of polypropylene—which ironically, is a “green” material. On top of this I create layered biomorphic abstractions composed of accumulated mark making and large areas of transparent and painterly color. I incorporate my surroundings, personal experience and environmental concerns into the work, including the pervasive infiltration of chemicals into our daily lives, by combining organic forms, stringy and obsessive lines, pipes, bony protrusions, then viscous pours, slip trailing of paint and direct graphite rubbings of wood grain. My vocabulary has evolved out of the visual residue of making photographs, prints, ceramic objects and drawings as well as the continuous reprocessing my own paintings as source material. Scale and variation contribute to the evolution and create a structure for decision making. I document the work at regular intervals using an iphone and rework and reenvision the photos using drawing apps. These pictures trace the evolution of the layers of imagery within each painting and also serve as source material as a body of work unfolds.
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist. Read more
The Institute Library
The Institute Library New Haven, CT
December 6, 2014 – January 17, 2015
CT(un)BOUND: Navigating the Flatfile
Artspace New Haven, CT
November 7, 2014 – January 31, 2015
Art New England
Alyse Rosner: Large Scale Work
artSPACE • New Haven, CT • artspacenh.org • Through January 26, 2013
Alyse Rosner, Split (blue), 2012, fluid acrylic and ink on yupo,
60 x 55″. Courtesy of the artist.
Alyse Rosner’s unique color works are hand-drawn and painted in media that include paint, so that one might be tempted to call them paintings—except (and this is a big exception) they are brimming with a printmaker’s doting affection for line. Line is writ large in these mostly massive images hung simply, by magnets. All of these works are engaged in the spirit of line. Each one is a bustling ode to squiggle and edge, demonstrating a wriggling, restless, get-on-with-it urgency; raising a toast to crispness and calligraphic momentum; sounding a clink to delicate slicing and dicing; and a hurrah to bumpy welts and snaky passages.
These are joyous love songs to the matter of paper, too, drawn on an archival “green” material called Yupo (made of polypropylene). It is not paper at all but a material that mimics the creamy translucence of parchment and offers what appears to be a skittery surface for pigment to slide across. Marks skate upon such a stage, skidding across surface in clean trajectories that vary only in their relative momentum.
There is no way to describe these works without accounting for the dynamics of them. Gravity and magnetic attraction play out in shallow layers upon the narrow vertical plane of the picture field. Narrow, blade-like intrusions, striped with white puff-paint that pools in a dollop that marks the start and stop of each margin, reach in from one edge of the paper to the center; crisp dark strands (like fistfuls of electric wire) attach them, like hammock strings, to the other. Linear things pile up from page bottom; yarn-like things hang down. Fat flat rivers of pattern snake up the page; ribbon-like bindings tie the loops together.
These are pictures constructed like stacked architectural drawings, one layer upon the next, each distinguished by the various pigment “delivery systems” employed. Razor-sharp technical pen lines, each laid in like the end grain of a deck of playing cards, define one kind of passage. The wide trails of a square brush, traversing in sinuous echelon, establish another. Like contrapuntal voices in an organic sort of boogie-woogie, Rosner’s work is a grinning nod to a wild and woolly world of traffic.
My most recent body of work combines biomorphic forms, viscous drips, direct rubbings of wood grain, gestural painting and obsessive line drawing. Although there are obvious connections to photography and printmaking, these images are all one of a kind. Every line is drawn freehand without a straight edge and the wood grain pattern is rubbed individually onto each surface from separate planks of wood.
These pieces follow nine years of painting highly detailed abstract miniatures on raw pine boards. The accumulation of tiny mark making on wood created a raised surface and distinct texture which naturally led to me to make rubbings of the miniature paintings. Later, I began to create more expansive rubbings taken from the deck behind my kitchen. On top of this layer of wood grain pattern, the organic dissemination of painted marks across the surface mutated into a more methodical system of painting and line drawing.
It is significant that the natural element in the work, the wood grain, is derrived from pressure treated wood, infused with chemicals formulated to defy nature. This toxic impression is captured on Yupo, a synthetic Japanese paper made of polypropylene—which ironically, is a “green” material.
The work is largely driven by process and materials, however the selection of synthetic, natural and chemical elements in combination with textures directly lifted from my home lends the work personal resonance and at the same time harbors more universal concerns.
On one level, describing the paintings in an Alyse Rosner exhibition is quite simple; all the works are 5 1/2 x 6 inches. Rosner consistently paints on wooden panels cut from standard one-inch thick boards. Given their small scale, the works seem almost chunky; they are thick in proportion to their size. This gives them a sculptural feel – the viewer is aware of them as objects, not just paintings.
Aware of these sculptural underpinnings, Rosner places the wood so that the grain runs vertically. Before she has made a mark she has made a number of decisions limiting and influencing the paintings she will create. While one might think that she has a consistent arena within which to work, each piece of wood has its own characteristics of grain, knot holes, and texture of surface to respond to.
The artist has said that the small scale and consistent use of a humble support – the board – “originally evolved out of the limitations of my life – space and time constraints – but became crucial to the imagery. The scale of the work allows me to get very involved and develop the detail and tiny mark making.”
Rosner has found freedom through limitation. This connects her work in spirit and process to Eastern art, and in fact Rosner cites Indian miniatures, manuscript illuminations, and Japanese screen paintings as influences. All have formal and procedural constraints within which artists have traditionally worked. Interestingly, the one contemporary artist she cites as an influence is Chuck Close, who has built a major and staggeringly inventive body of work by working within self-imposed limitations.
For Rosner, the limitations of scale and material are just the beginning. She limits herself to a small repertoire of mark making – dots, small dashes, slight curls, lacy swirls – atop veils of color. The mark making is direct, confident, precise, and clear. The viewer can easily see how the works were made, and the connection to another artist Rosner cites as an influence, Philip Guston. Like Guston, Rosner’s work has an almost cartoon-like simplicity.
Yet despite the sculptural quality of the support and the simplicity of approach to mark making, these are above all paintings. Again, the artist: “Painting is the most direct route to generate the language. The color and surface are just as important as the mark making. Initially, I considered the paintings on wood to be in place of drawings– in the sense that I was processing ideas to see how they would look. As the work develops from piece to piece I control the image more. The experience of printmaking — specifically etching and woodblock printing– also informs the physical process of how the paintings are made. But I choose paint for its directness. In printmaking there is distance between creating the image and the actual print… These are paintings. They are not a representation (picture) of something else. When they work, they become their own thing – and to me, they look like something is happening and I’ve caught it mid way. Stop action.”
Stop action is a good phrase for describing these paintings. The stopped action could be a rising tide, a passing sea of phosphorescence, the swish of a dress, or some more cosmic event.
But, as Rosner states, these are not pictures; the stopped action is painting. These works are intensely personal, even private paintings, created amidst the daily tumult of children and household. Painting under these conditions is indeed a heroic undertaking. Action painting was, in its day, viewed as a brave and iconoclastic achievement. Perhaps we might view Rosner’s smaller scale actions as even more of an accomplishment; to create such beauty within the exigencies of the household is to connect to some of the most vital traditions in both art and craft. This is a major achievement. This is art that reminds the viewer to look again at one’s own boundaries not as limitations, but as opportunities.
Harry Philbrick May, 2006
All quotes by the artist from email correspondence with the author, April, 2006. Harry Philbrick was director of The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT from 1996-2010. In 2011 he joined the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts as the Edna S. Tuttleman Director of the Museum.