Janet Passehl is moved by how Hokusai treats rain: arrays of carefully drawn long vertical or slanting lines that exist strongly as both marks and illusion. In rendering something fleeting so concretely, Hokusai brings his rain to Eliot’s “still point of the turning world.” As viewers, we are privy to the inconceivable: the eternal present. Slashing rain brings pathos and intimacy to Hokusai’s pictures, as human figures—pedestrians twisting under blowing umbrellas, fishermen rowing their boats hard— are also held in suspension.
Drawing, especially line with its immediacy and potency, is at the heart of the artist’s work. The four pieces in this show continue an ongoing collaboration with space, light, gravity, and the nature of woven fabric. The cloth is plain and her interaction with it simple. “Material knows more than I do, so in the studio I act less and watch more.’
Passehl’s concern in the studio is not to make a “work of art” but to pay attention to the changing conditions in a continuum of moments as she interacts with her chosen materials. A piece is “finished” when it seems to contain all the moments.
Janet Passehl is an artist and poet whose work has been exhibited on three continents. Although her influences are wide-ranging, she is frequently associated with first-generation “minimalists” and has been shown alongside Agnes Martin, Marcia Hafif, Carl Andre, Sol LeWitt, Fred Sandback, Dan Flavin, and others.
In 2013 her ironed cloth was featured in the survey Art & Textile: Fabric as Material and Concept in Modern Art from Klimt to the Present, at Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, and Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Germany.
Passehl’s work is in several private collections as well as teaching museums such as the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College, The Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas, Austin, and the Tang Museum at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York.
Passehl’s first full length poetry collection, Clutching Lambs, was published in 2014 by Negative Capability Press.
Image rights: copyright 2017 Janet Passehl, all rights reserved
ODETTA, Appearance, Fall 2017