The paintings of Lydia Janssen
in captured movement. A former dancer who trained with the legendary Merce
Cunningham, Janssen turned her focus to painting after suffering career-ending
knee injuries. As such, she paints with the dancer’s awareness of the body—and
more recently with the added element of physical knowledge gained through
“My art can be understood as an attempt to paint
movement or, perhaps, move with the paint. There is dance in the content of my paintings
and dance in the execution of them,” Janssen says
artist statement. “More succinctly, my own body, its limitations,
and the emotions associated with that charge my work.”
In her debut solo show in New York, “Lydia Janssen: A Course Change
” at Susan Eley Fine Art
Singapore-based artist presents nine large-scale works, each filled with
silhouettes of animal forms, disembodied limbs, visual references to the Wild
West, and scribbles of text—abstract compositions that simultaneously capture a
sense of stillness and expansive movement.
Janssen begins each work with a gessoed canvas, on which she adds
layers of organic forms in charcoal. Working quickly while paying rigorous
attention to color—a technique she picked up while studying with Larry Poons
at the Art
Students League—she adds pastel and oil paint using a palette knife and paper
towel to add and softly subtract pigment, never using a traditional paintbrush.
The result is a surface filled with frozen action, as dreamlike forms appear
and then recede into pleasant swathes of pattern.