Exhibition: Deaths & Entrances by Janet Solomon
The scale of the painting or drawing sets up an important dynamic between viewer and artist and this element of an artwork, like any other is a reflection of its time.Recent exhibitions have seen works of a small, intimate scale which are less forgiving than large works and require a deliberate meticulous technique to convey their message. They are also perhaps a reflection of a lack of optimism and the brashness which, for instance, the American artists of the 1950s portrayed.We are living in uncertain times where resources have to be conserved and messages need to be subtle. These factors which affect scale are also evident in the Psychological tone of this exhibition.
Janet Solomon’s works repay close inspection. Her point of departure is Western art history and she uses titles such as Deposition, Expulsion, Annunciation, etc which are part of an artistic tradition. However her interpretations are fresh and transposed into a contemporary context.Often, such as in Deposition, the format of the work itself – a triangle – recalls traditional conventions and triggers associations which cause us to find parallels and look for the subconscious meaning of the work. The works are all the result of extensive thought processes and comment on wide contemporary issues.
Lifesavers, for instance, plays on words and conventions and, like Expulsion, brings the landscape into play with human impulses and shortcomings. The juxtaposition of man and landscape is intelligent and questioning. Her landscapes are not the green pastures of the Renaissance works, from which she draws her inspiration; they are rather desolate, harsh areas where man is shown as frail and anti-heroic.
The watercolour medium is so often used to create picturesque, decorative works and it is encouraging to see it being used in a more serious manner by an artist who does not fall prey to the traps which the medium holds for the majority of its exponents. Her small scale demands a precision which she achieves.
Solomon is a young artist and this exhibition shows that she has a considerable future ahead if she continues to pursue this path. The works are intelligent, thought-provoking and literate.