WHAT’S A REAL STORY WHEN PAINTED N.3

 137ac  JANET LAING

JANET LAING, Untitled, 2015, Oil on canvas 18

JANET LAING, Untitled, 2015, Oil on canvas 18″ x 18″ (round)   Photo: Bianca Sforni
Courtesy of 137ac

Artist Statement

A PERSON VIBRATES, MOVES, CHANGES  By Janet Laing

 “I have been painting for 13 years—ever since I first got sober at 49, and began art therapy groups. Painting is healing and therapeutic for me, it frees my mind of clutter so I can concentrate on what is in front of me. 

I love art because it is such a great tool for self-expression. Both singing and painting are my fortes because through these vehicles I find my inner voice. 

There is something magical about capturing a sound, a color, and the vibrancy of telling a story. It also makes me only too aware of how I must evolve, stretching beyond my comfort zone, taking some risks so that my personal truth can come to light. 

Lately I have been painting in oil on canvas and giving myself themes: People and Pets; Kissing Couples; and Waterfalls.”

TIME HAS A WAY OF BEING FEMALE     I was born in Los Angeles in 1952 and raised in a working class family attending schools in Covina and West Covina.  I knew I wanted to be a professional singer by the age of eight, but was never encouraged in this or any other art form.  In my twenties I did a lot of different jobs, but mostly worked as a legal secretary because my typing was fast.  When I found out my mother died at 38 from Huntington’s Disease, and  I had a 50/50 chance of inheriting the gene, I decided I better work at what I love, singing.

That is when I moved to New York City and sang with the Funktionaries. Later I formed my own female band, Wanda and The Way It Is.  I sang, wrote songs and breezed past my late thirties and forties without getting HD but my two brothers were not so lucky. They both passed away. Me, I was living the fast, wild and wooly lifestyle of an entertainer. It didn’t take long before I was a full-fledged alcoholic.

Recovery brought me to my knees and then my senses were awakened in art, music and writing. I became prolific in all three and recaptured my long lost soul.  My spirit had been pushed down all my life because it was impractical to be an artist. Now I am thriving in all art’s glory. Thanks to Annatina Miescher, founder of 137ac, I have a studio with supplies to paint in and get to work with like-minded people who love to paint. Our collective is innovative and challenging and we are blessed to have each other to inspire. My band, Wanda and The Way It Is, has come full circle as well.

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“When we look at the blue sky for the first time, that is to say not merely see it, but look at it and experience it and for the first time have a sense that we live in the center of a physical poetry, a geography that would be intolerable except for the non-geography that exists there — few people realize that they are looking at the world of their own thoughts and the world of their own feelings.

On that occasion, the blue sky is a particular of life that we have thought of often, even though unconsciously, and that we have felt intensely in those crystallizations of freshness that we no more remember than we remember this or that gust of wind in spring or autumn.” (Wallace Stevens)

 

JANET LAING, Swimmers, 2014, oil on canvas  24

JANET LAING, Swimmers, 2014, oil on canvas 24″ x 18″       Photo: Bianca Sforni
Courtesy of 137ac

THE BLUE SKY SHUTTERED IN PIECES FELL INTO JANE LAING’S PAINTINGS

By ROSANNA ALBERTINI

What’s in front of her, in front of us all, is the most malleable scene. Only the mood, and the way we step into the new day will tell if the beach, or the towers downtown are easy or impossible to reach. Los Angeles is in my mind, the place where Jane Laing came from and where I live; a non geographical spreading of trees houses water and sky so expanded and intertwined with different languages and communities that nobody thinks of human nature as something interesting. Human nature is just a drop in the water.

So I’m not sure what disconnected Janet from her nature nailing her fast fingers to a typewriter except the idea maybe that humans are good when they make money and compete with machines. A very diffused feeling around parents of young people of her generation, also in Europe, a sort of after war syndrome. “Tears are not the chorus. Food is not the chorus. Money is not the chorus. What is the chorus. … Anyway there is the question of identity.” (Gertrude Stein) And that also has to do with the cat.

Jane built her living space despite the broken glass around her, perhaps a broken sky. Her cat recognizes her. In the end she became an artist.

Her painted stories are songs of separation: she paints a life pushed down to earth, rocks or asphalt. There is no open sky, no sky at all. Buildings and roads as brown as dirt. They are scenes of movement. Flatness liberates them from realism. Painted life is not reproduced life. It’s her dream of a living place charged with physical energy: human bodies float rather than swim in the ocean because the water does the work after swallowing green and blue and azure and pale blue and she can tell the humans “you know? I don’t care. I’m the strong one.”

JANET LAING, Waterfall, 2014 (?)  oil on canvas Courtesy of 137ac

JANET LAING, Waterfall, 2014,  oil on canvas
Courtesy of 137ac

The painter as well found her voice as if crystals of freshness exploded in her mind, as if she had seen the sky melting in waterfalls so the rocks can wear a liquid dress that constantly changes, at the same time sounding like an orchestra for the invisible birds hidden in the green. Of course, somewhere, there is always a cat.

JANET LAING, Caramela and the Birds, 2014, Oil on canvas  18

JANET LAING, Caramela and the Birds, 2014, Oil on canvas 18″ x 20″
Courtesy of 137ac

Her painted cats are bodies of tense muscles, concentrated: “Shall I jump from the window? mmm… Maybe the birds are too distant.” But a crazy desire spreads from the eye in yellow, follows the birds, becomes a yellow stream from a window… and the azure surrounding the cat like a river, whatever, why should words count?

JANE LAING, Portrait of Jonathan, 2013, Oil on canvas, 18

JANE LAING, Portrait of Jonathan, 2013, Oil on canvas, 18″ x 24″
Courtesy of 137ac

That’s why I love Jane Laing’s portraits. They are silent. Although they happen to be in a particular place, the person’s outline is surrounded by a white halo, maybe a reflection of her/his/whose mind which travels elsewhere, and doesn’t stay inside.

JANET LAING, bicker chicks, 2013, Oil on canvas, 23.5

JANET LAING, bicker chicks, 2013, Oil on canvas, 23.5″ x 31″
Courtesy of 137ac

Let’s go, let’s go girls, springtime is calling. Musicians are ready. “Azure, the afternoon is too azure and too long for me. I might take the train and come to see you. But, the train of my desires and the one of my thoughts go in opposite directions.” What about a lemon ice-cream? “Azzurro, il pomeriggio è troppo azzurro e lungo per me. Quasi quasi prendo il treno e vengo da te. Ma il treno dei desideri e dei pensieri all’incontrario van.” From Azzurro, a song by Paolo Conte.

WHAT’S A REAL STORY WHEN PAINTED

137ac  — PAULA ISAAC

Her statements

November 2014 — Art is what you make of it. It is sexuality, immaturity, advancement, it is a definition of how much you study life and your own feelings, of how you manage your life or self-esteem. For me, it is love of yourself and I am gonna say no more.

January 2015 — All the old masters were the greatest painters of a time men wanted to see themselves as being beautiful. Then Norman Rockwell came along at a time men wanted to feel good about who they were. This artist is my hero. He painted a human life America wanted, and needed to lift American spirit. I paint more informal than he did. I am telling a tale that is more contemporary. My travels are real stories and his was more storytelling.

PAULA ISAAC, Self Portrait, 2014, Oil on canvas, 28" x 22" Courtesy of 137ac

PAULA ISAAC, Self Portrait, 2014, Oil on canvas, 28″ x 22″
Courtesy of 137ac

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Paula’s bio by Paula

I, Paula, am a go getter shy woman born in Trinidad in 1960, a twin in the middle of ten children. Trinidad let me memories of colors. Since age three I drew and made paper dolls and their clothes. I was a quiet child. Dad loved to make masks for the carnival in Trinidad. I would be a plumber if I had listened to him.

When I was 8, we joined my two older sisters in Queen, New York. I saw snow for the first time that year. I went to the High School of Arts and Design; wanting to be a cartoonist, I wanted to draw at least. Then I moved on to FIT, fashion illustration, remember the paper doll dresses? But there was no drawing real people.

At age 22 I decided to be a real artist and got part time work to pay my supplies. At 27 I married Bill and became the mom of Letitia at 32, Bill died of cancer when she was only 5. My time as a mom went by so fast, occasionally I could sell a painting for us to go to a movie or theater. Then I joined the Arts Student League to get my hands back in the arts: survival for my mind. In 2014 I was invited to join 137ac, so I took a chance.

WHAT’S A REAL STORY WHEN PAINTED

by Rosanna Albertini

What comes and go, on the flat land of a canvas, is bodies and time. How they want to be there is the artist’s discovery. A woman sits and looks out of her confinement. Each eye shaped by a different state of mind. The same happens in Woman V by Willem De Kooning. And same stillness. The canvas is where she belongs, fluids and feelings so compressed within they pierce her skin to bleed out. The figure at odds with light perhaps because she can be hit — light, life, pressure of reality. Instead she wants to stay, stay like a brick needs to be in a wall. A visitor asks Paula if the painted woman is a self-portrait. “Oh that,” she answers after thinking a moment, “ that’s my spirit.” It’s Paula’s blue period, brown and blue. It doesn’t really matter the kind of scene that is painted, it’s not a collection of figures in different postures. Objects are absent, humans fill the stage. If they sit, they just sit on their own presence: a woman smokes and sits, it is maybe three times the same woman as in a film sequence. She doesn’t look out of the painting.

PAULA ISAAC, Her, Herer, Herest, 2015, Oil on canvas, 28" x 35" Courtesy of 137ac

PAULA ISAAC, Her, Herer, Herest, 2015, Oil on canvas, 28″ x 35″
Courtesy of 137ac

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The subject of the painting, like the subject of poetry, is “the life that is lived in the scene that it composes; and so reality is not that external scene but the life that is lived in it. Reality is things as they are […] It is a jungle in itself. As in the case of a jungle, everything that makes it up is pretty much of one color.” (Wallace Stevens)

The blue of the lake, the blue of the sky in Paula’s work. Not only the figures’ body, their mind wears blue, the scene works in blue, moves through time creating distance without perspective. A prominent point has replaced the vanishing optical illusion. Here’s now. I follow the fantasy that Paula thinks blue letting the brush be liquid and flexible. Erasing as well as selecting.

In the studio a catalogue of a Filippo de Pisis exhibition is open on the table. In and out of her paintings, the artist, maybe, can’t really separate them from her life, the internal scene has become a picture of her being in the world. Paula wouldn’t stop reading De Pisis’ painted thoughts, how he painted what remains in his mind of a city, a beach or a bunch of flowers. As she unfolds the Italian painter’s thread I can see hers, and I would cry with pleasure. My inner painting. 

MY BODY, THE UNKNOWN ME

NAOTAKA HIRO: My body, the unknown me

About Untitled (Mocap), 2015

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled (Mocap), 2015  Bronze, rope, steel   Dimensions variable Courtesy of Brennan & Griffin, New York

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled (Mocap), 2015 Bronze, rope, steel   Dimensions variable
Courtesy of Brennan & Griffin, New York

Untitled (Mocap) is a continuation of my previous sculptural works.  Using the same method of self-casting, I had pieces of palm-size, heated wax on my hand, that I pushed steadily against different places of the frontal part of my body —one by one, from head to toe, 58 times. 

Each cast bronze object, 58 pieces in total, has parts of my body surface imprinted on one side while traces of my fingers/palm cover the other side. 

All the parts are threaded by a single rope, thus the work has fixed and unfixed parts hung on the wall in the installation. The original body placements, as seen in the diagram-drawings, is being bundled up, displaced and re-arranged.  The work will be rearranged by the artist every time it is shown. (Naotaka Hiro)

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled (Mocap Drawing)  2015, Ink and pencil on paper, 72" x 48" Courtesy of Brenna & Griffin, New York

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled (Mocap Drawing) 2015, Ink and pencil on paper, 72″ x 48″
Courtesy of Brenna & Griffin, New York

The person has a mold. But not

its animal. The angelic ones

Speak of the soul, the mind. It is

An animal. … (Wallace Stevens)

Angels? Animals? A unique orchestra of organs for each person on earth? Plus the hardware, to support the subjectivity. Body surface: evidence that we belong to the material world. And everyone is unique, not so much for the chromosomes, but for life itself: if I was born in the countryside the city hurts me with noise, strange eyes of the car lights and unrequested offers to look and read and buy and pay. I can be killed if I don’t pay attention.

Naotaka Hiro isolates himself in his studio at the end of the day. Restless, he tries to imagine how to capture and render in an art piece his body’s hidden operations, the chemical dynamics that we call life. Aware of the senses yes, but for him more must be possible. “Motion capture” — “Mocap.”

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Who’s driving the game? His mind or the body? The myth of Pygmalion, Rodin’s statues charged with human vibrations are things of the past. A stone is a stone and bronze is bronze is bronze. Still, other things must be possible — I’m imagining the artist’s puzzle — things that the eyes will discover when they appear. Not body parts, just forms of an imaginary dialogue between hand and body of the same person.

For the time being a piece of warm wax between the palm of his hand and different parts of his frontal body give him the answer, the one working for this piece: each pressure produces a local reaction. With no verbal ambiguity, the two parts are separate and one: the wax registers both: the result is a two-side booklet of physical language cast in bronze, a malleable space in between. Numbered, and cast in bronze, each entity refers to the body without being a body part. All together, connected by one rope, they might dream of the human body as we dream of prehistoric sites.

We only see, in Naotaka Hiro’s art piece, fragments of time, captured physicality. Maybe be there is a lion, or a tiger, in the final configuration. But, next time, positions will be changed. Who knows? Replaced by a Phoenix who simply decomposes before she was reborn? The artist, for sure, will play his art in front of the ‘animal spirits’ locked in the bronze.

Please read this stanza by Wallace Stevens. It’s the best portrait of Nao’s active work I found so far. Maybe not sculpture, maybe not true anymore that “Where word breaks off no thing may be.” (Friedrich Hölderlin) Yet, MOCAP gives the idea, if not the object.

WALLACE STEVENS stanza xix (from THE MAN WITH THE BLUE GUITAR)

That I may reduce the monster to

Myself, and then may be myself

In face of the monster, be more than part

Of it, more than the monstrous player of

One of its monstrous lutes, not be

Alone, but reduce the monster and be,

Two things, the two together as one,

And play of the monster and of myself,

Or better not of myself at all,

But of that as its intelligence,

Being the lion in the lute

Before the lion locked in stone.

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, Mocap Map) 2015 detail

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled,(Mocap Map) 2015 detail.