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For a time now I have been interested in combining my version of process painting with narrative imagery. The last few projects have addressed this duality. Placing two opposing forces simultaneously within the same paint surface or project, one relying on tactile presence, the other relying on illusionism, allows for interplay between what is “real” and what is not. The process painted elements are a kind of metaphor for the processes of life while the realist elements the illusions presented by life and how the sense of the “real” is constantly being interchanged. I have also created several drawing series exploring movement and energy patterns which can serve as sources for the process painting areas.

 

"Volklingen/Jackson Heights" contains images of my brother’s life, that of an historical steel mill in the German town where he was born and images of his life in a suburb of New York City after immigrating to the U.S. The process areas in this work take on a subtle quality with neutral color and some paint texture. A series of paintings titled “Green and White 1, 2 and 3” contain more biographical images of my brother juxtaposed with heavy dark green process painted vertical stripes. “My Grandmother’s Photo Album Project” is another work using process-oriented elements with narrative imagery. This time the narrative and process elements are on separate panels arranged on varying lengths of narrow shelving. “My Grandmother’s Photo Album Project” was influenced by an earlier work entitled “Three Fathers” consisting of 132 panels presented in a grid format. Five of the panels contain narrative imagery while the remaining panels have the repeating element of a red oval outline on backgrounds of gradually shifting color.

 

The source material for the narrative imagery comes from family photographs. In using these photographs for various painting projects I want to explore the idea of using a personal subject matter in creating a work of art. I am also exploring the idea of how the “snap shot” is used culturally as a Family Almanac and what it can and cannot convey.

 

Janice Handleman