For this group of artists, the distortion and exploration of color, form and space generate feelings and emotions that stimulate a deeper relationship between human experiences and land.
Abstract Land connects the oeuvre of four painters, Dominique Caron, Martine Jardel, Roland Petersen and Foad Satterfield. The exhibition exposes the inward expressions of the artistic process in reshaping the perception of Earth’s tangible and solid surfaces. Through abstraction, these artists deconstruct the dense layers of land to reveal depths of cultural interpretation, emotions and memories that exist in various sequences, places and moments. Caron and Jardel focus on emulating mood and energies through aesthetic affects of vast spaces and color fields. Satterfield’s approach, rhythmic and meticulous, creates an impression through layering brushstrokes while Peterson’s approach radiates bold colors and mediates the balance of space in relation to the figure. Each of these artists evoke the abstract as a language that reveals subtle unseen qualities of time and place.
Jardel alludes to land through sensation rather than finite depiction; this sensation is communicated through vast open fields of space and suggestive lines, which materialize in her Tears of Color series. Her process of mixing linseed oil, pigments and wax, enables her to build smooth surfaces that enhance her tonalist colors, which bleed into one another. These bleeding tones contribute to the undefined boundaries that subtly hint at land, sky and water. Emphasizing the atmospheric qualities over that of the definitive space, Jardel’s application of color and light is often compared to the master landscape painter, JMW Turner. Much in the sentiment of Romanticism, Jardel’s work explores her individual connection to place, time and nature by evoking an inward sublime yet tranquil sensation.
Where Jardel’s work generates an inward turn, Caron’s Sprung From Different Beginnings projects energetic forces outward. She depicts these forces by exploring counterpoints through dichotomous visual form: rough to smooth, frantic to calm, dark to light. This dichotomy in Caron’s work is carried throughout her paintings. Her abstract forms leave all traces of the material world, searching for underlying universal qualities, yet leaving bread crumbs of specific references, sometimes through calligraphy or battered cloth layered into the canvas’s topography. Caron’s process is explorative and searching, thinking through her own memories of land and how such memories affect one’s perception.
Memories also hold an essential role in Satterfield’s approach to land. His compositions ground the viewer into the physical spaces of deep marshes, reflective lakes and earthy woods. His Epic series uncovers the natural patterns observed through water and light. What perhaps is most striking about Satterfield’s work is his cohesive and deliberate application of color through form—soft, organic and irregular, often repeating in a methodical rhythm. The overall aesthetic skates between the gestural marks of Expressionism, yet generates the atmospheric lightness of Impressionism. Often Satterfield’s paintings contain different levels of brush stroke tightness and layers; this challenges traditional notions of completion to expose method and process as a fundamental value.
Petersen’s initial process begins similarly to Satterfield’s as he sketches precise moments and then later combines aspects of these sketches into a single painting. In Picnic series, the subject is specific to his memories at a university’s annual event. In the series he compresses land and place both metaphorically and physically. Unlike the other artists shown, Petersen uses the figure to ground his abstract terrain through space and time. In Leaving the Picnic, he subtly integrates the figure, small and gestural, into the composition’s left corner. A bright splash of yellow directs the viewer’s eye to the figure, which otherwise blends into the painting’s vast plain of dark blues and purples. This intentional maneuver forces one’s eye to continue exploring the composition while also telling a narrative specific to place and memory, using the distortion of space to stimulate visual discovery.
For this group of artists, the distortion and exploration of color, form and space generate feelings and emotions that stimulate a deeper relationship between human experiences and land. Abstract Land introduces these visual forms of abstraction as means to alter perception and provide insight into how one defines their place within the outside world—even for something as concrete and recognizable as land.