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Friday, November 14, 2008

"The issues are in the tissues"

Jonah gave his artists' talk last night. He partly talked about how his training as a massage therapist prepared him as a painter. As part of his training, he had to assemble muscles onto a skeletal model, giving him an understanding of their relations, insertions, etc. Part of his interest in the subject of his paintings, Mary, was an interest in the way the body posture in older people seems more transparent and revelatory -- the body seems to express itself more plainly, with less self-consciousness, as it ages.

He said the bust portraits were more about Mary as a person -- the full-body paintings were more about "using" Mary as a model to express some of his own ideas and obsessions.

The image of Mary in the trunk is an interesting re-visiting of an image in a painting Jonah had done before. The previous painting was of a young woman either emerging from, or being closed into, a suitcase. That image was lusciously painted, but I found something almost callow about it. Having Mary in the trunk struck me as being a far more interesting confluence of figure and luggage. There's a lot more empathy to the image of Mary in the trunk, even as if retains a somewhat jaundiced, absurdist vantage point on the efficacy of prayer. The trunk seems like a minimalist ark, set out on a sea of matte black infinity.

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