Monday, August 24, 2009

Painter Jeni Spota

from the article,

After a "really awful" critique in the fall of her second year, she reversed course, embarking on a series of small, colorful, thickly painted canvases. And instead of painting multiple film stills, she drew from a single one, a scene from the director's 1971 "Il Decameron."

"There's one particular moment where Giotto, who's played by Pasolini, wakes up in the middle of the night with a vision of a painting he wants to make. It's of all these people on a hill and the Virgin Mary and choirboys and underneath them, naked mannequin figures hanging and angels holding out a cross and people praying, and a boy holding up a miniature church. In the film it only lasted for a few seconds. I really wanted that image to stay in my head. It felt like a dream, so fleeting, but you really felt the energy of it. It encapsulated everything I was trying to find and say and think about."

Freeing herself from the anxiety of creating something new with every new canvas, Spota began to paint, over and over, variants of "Giotto's Dream" -- scenes densely packed with tiny repeated figures, each a single swipe and dash of paint, yet legible as rows of angels, Christ on the cross, Mary with the infant Jesus in her arms, naked bodies suspended by their feet, all laid down in muted primaries, black, white and brown, in pigment viscous as marshmallow cream.

"I really liked how the thick paint made the dream more dreamlike," she says, "how the paint vibrated and created that feeling of the dream, because you can't really focus on it when it's thick and textured like that. You get the general idea of the image and then as soon as you look away, you can't really construct the entire image in your head the way it is in the painting, but you get the feeling of the painting, the ethereal energy from it."


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