ARTIST STATEMENT

1.1.11

When you see something that moves you, there remains a kind of emotional afterimage in the minds’ eye. This is what I paint.



Whatever the initial stimulus - be it sky, water, light, earth - I work to create a visual sense of the threshold between  light and matter, the image and the imagined.

While grounded in the natural world, the process of translating an image into paint becomes a matter of abstracting and distilling the details, until the painting hovers between abstraction and representation, embodying the place where the liminal becomes visible.

While working, I think of how the modulation of color signals to the brain that movement is occurring. How does one capture color as movement in a painting?  I perceive painting as a means to explore that concept. Color doesn’t need form because it is the form. I see color’s movement from hue to hue, shade to shade as form.

I strive to create a picture plane that does not admit to being a painting, to blur the border in between the air surrounding the work and the work itself, to create a place of enigma that people can stand in front of and enter into in whatever way they choose. A successful landscape painting is one that seems familiar yet not readily identifiable -- is it sky, land, water, or something else altogether?

Using traditional techniques on very smooth wood and canvas surfaces, I use oils to reveal depth of color and potential colors, much like harmonic overtones in music.

From Turner to Rothko to now, I take Clement Greenberg’s notion of the flat painting plane and transform it into a three dimensional space through the use of color and depth of field in which not a brushstroke is revealed. My work has been described as “a corner of a Turner dreaming of a Turner”, and certainly Turner has influenced my work by his ability to provide the viewer with an intensity of experience that transcends the image.  Francis Bacon, Mark Rothko, Francisco de Goya, and Anselm Kiefer - I am drawn to their darkness, their humanity, their passion for their subjects and how they portray that passion.

Concerning the interaction of light and matter, is light a wave or is it a particle?  Is it an action or a material? The paintings are based on reflections of light. As I work I feel as though I am in two places at once, experiencing a sense of traveling within a conversation I am having with the paint. I listen very carefully to color.

While drawing I also have to listen to black and white, albeit in a very different way. Drawings need form because the absence of color demands form. Drawing is about the imprint of human life, about the illusions of permanence, the intimacy, fragility and transience of life They demand a different content. Every subject matter is unique to the media. Using powdered graphite on extremely smooth papers, there are only a few certain images I can use for this medium – those  forms that exhibit their vulnerability and their evaporation into nonexistence: garlics, birds’ nests, feathers, dried roses and mummified bats.   The bat and the rose drawings always depict a solitary form. The garlics, feathers and nests are always presented in doubles. This is a purposeful and critical compositional element that I believe echoes the death of my twin brother. Reciprocity as a concept of life is the basis of these compositions.  

The relationship between painting and drawing remains an ongoing dance of balancing color and image. The paintings present the movement of color and how that gives us access to something beyond matter, as we know it. The drawings represent time passing.

© 2012 - 2019 by Greta Gundersen. All rights reserved. Artwork photographed by Stephen Petegorsky and Harrison Evans.  info@gretagundersen.com