SL: I really loved Corresponding Selves at Dodge Gallery. I think that the paintings were really powerful not just individually but as a group. One of the things that really stood out for me in this show was the way that you handled materials as carriers of formal and emotional information. Fabric didn't just hold paint, it actually became a painterly gesture in itself, for example. The portrait orientations and the title of the show made a connection to portraiture and each painting seemed to have a separate identity but in the aggregate the show felt like the expression of a larger consciousness. It was really great to see abstract painting that had something to do with painting AND with life. I kept thinking about the passage of time as well as scars, marks, bandages, stains, fluid, support, and all sorts of deeply body-related metaphors that have been all but banished from discussion abstraction in contemporary discussion of art.
Also, I know Rauschenberg figures largely for both of us and that was laid bare in paintings where the rectangle is a compositional tool and is constructed with a abject gesture (in within, for example, where a paper towel does the job). I also suspect that an artist like Richard Tuttle's inventiveness in creating space may be of interest to you in holder held where the painting makes a simple shape in the most difficult of ways.
And still with all of the bodily presence, movement and energy wrapped up in the paintings, there is a tremendous amount of reserve and elegance. Which leads me to my question:
In such a complex practice that allows a democracy of materials, influences, and metaphors, how do you negotiate a relationship between chance and precision?
JFH: I got very emotional when I read your question. Its such a boost of encouragement to hear someone understand the work so well. By the way, my website says within has paper towel but thats wrong, its actually stripped sheetrock. Here is my answer to ONE QUESTION:
Each work is essentially a balance between assertion of and surrender to form, and can only happen by getting busy. My suspicious nature tries to think me out of painting, but when I show up and stick around invariably another gear shifts in. I’m referring to when the analytical mind quiets, doing becomes thinking, and subject and object collapse into each other. Yet even when in this formless space I come up against my own hypocrisy. For example, I often find myself favoring one movement of paint or material and tip-toeing around it, or trying to bend the rest of the work to suit it. In order to find whats past this kind of attachment I do something destructive or introduce materials/methods that I have never tried before. Usually whats on the other side of these hierarchical take downs is invigorating, especially when the surface damage incurred dictates how the paint operates. I might have caused that hole or divot, but the way the paint pools and leaks in and around it is captivating.
I’m working towards making painted things that aren’t bogged down by an agenda, but exude a vulnerability, rawness and grace latent in the material. It takes some rearranging for me to enjoy the beauty of things. A work reveals itself around the time that I’ve overworked it to the point that I’m willing to to sacrifice the whole thing. Another approach has been to stretch old tarps, enjoying that the paint and stains arrived on the cloth without the burden of arty intention. The challenge here has been to keep my hand out of it, to consider that it might not require the validation of a slew of messy marks. I try to operate in the fluid space between what things are and aren’t. Helen Molesworth’s Part Object Part Sculpture (this book is a work of art in-it-of-itself) and John Yau’s A Thing Among Things: The Art of Jasper Johns are two thoughtful books on this idea. Its been interesting (and uncomfortable) to notice how the boundaries of my painting practice continue to loosen. What keeps me searching for form is the reverberation that happens between works, which I've often thought of as a cast of characters. With Corresponding Selves I embraced that I’m seeking to describe that deeper consciousness/formless/collapse that sustains the practice.
Images of Jane's work can be seen at her website here. Also, images from Corresponding Selves can be seen at the Dodge Gallery website. Most recently, Jane's work was in See with Fingers curated by the artist Laurel Sparx. The show was on view at the Barbara Walters Gallery at Sarah Lawrence college. It also included Yevgeniya Baras, Anna Betbeze, Sue Havens, Eve Lateiner, Lauren Luloff, Chris Martin, Cordy Ryman, Laurel Sparks and Nancy Shaver.