Blue Scoops, 2014 Acrylic on Mylar panel 40 x 50 inches Inside Cover Image: detail, Blue Scoops Opposite Page:
Dark Delight, 2015 Acrylic on Mylar panel 30 x 80 inches, diptych Photo Credits: Kevin Noble all photos except page 27, Stefan Hagan Catalog Design: C. Beasley-Baker
Mirage paintings by Jackie Battenfield KENISE BARNES FINE ART May 30 - July 11, 2015 1947 Palmer Avenue Larchmont NY. 10538 914.834.8077
Jackie Battenf ield: Branching Lines, Swirling Pigments essay by
Gabriel de Guzman
In Jackie Battenfield’s paintings, undulating branches appear to stretch across a pervasive white light, as if to drink in this life-giving element. Line, color, and light are Battenfield’s essential ingredients for representing nature at its most abstract. In Mirage, this exhibition of recent works, her mastery of watery acrylic paint on Mylar, Battenfield’s chosen medium and support, is reflected in the luminous depictions of blossoms and leaves against the open sky. Through a contemplative and meticulous process, she finds a natural correlation between a sinuous, branching tree limb and the diffusion of pigments in fluid.
A fascination with the interaction and layering of colors guides Battenfield’s creative process. Starting with one of her photographs of trees, Battenfield projects the image onto Mylar (translucent drafting film) and carefully traces the outlines with pencil. She then creates her color palette by mixing thinned down acrylics to an inky consistency and finally layers and shapes each puddle of paint into the work’s harmonious composition. Lying flat on a table, the film’s nonporous surface does not absorb the paint, allowing Battenfield to “coax pools of paint into translucent veils of color.” The painting Honeyed Haze (2012–13) demonstrates her ability to mix technical restraint and spontaneous movement, as the artist gives up a certain amount of control to gravity and chemistry. As the medium dries, pigments and liquids of different weights and densities wrestle one another; they push, pull, swirl, and spread. Pigments accumulate in spots or migrate toward the edges that outline evocative shapes. As in Pale Azure (2014), lines form branches that appear to flow and twist, sometimes subtly, sometimes abruptly. In Blue Scoops (2014), leaves and blossoms emerge from tributaries that taper into fine streams or feed into brilliant lakes of color. While the preparation seems involved and painstaking, once the parameters of a particular work are mapped, the artist sees the painting process itself as akin to an “intimate meditation on landscape.” A feeling of quiet wonder in the presence of natural phenomena infuses Battenfield’s work. Her enchantment with trees took hold during a rural meditation retreat in the 1990s. Withdrawing for a moment from her bustling city life, a sense of deep calm transfixed the artist as she noticed the daily, unhurried transformation of a great elm tree with buds and leaves emerging. After many years as an abstract painter, Battenfield was looking for a kind of gesture that was unrelated to calligraphy or to Abstract Expressionism. She realized that trees offer endless possibilities of line and shape more exciting than any form an artist could invent. The result is a body of work that ranges from the peacefulness of Salt-laden Air (2015) to the colorful explosion of
Lavender Wash (2013).
However, the origin story starts, as always, with childhood. Battenfield remembers the bliss she felt as a youngster, spending many afternoons sitting under the protective canopy of a tree, reading a book, and looking up through the boughs. It is from this vantage point that she chooses to paint her subject. The stark contrast of figure and ground in Dark Delight (2015) exemplifies this view. For Battenfield, painting is a way of reanimating the tree limbs, turning leaves, and budding flowers that are ongoing sources of interest; it is an attempt to capture the aliveness of nature through the physical properties and behavior of pigments in suspended motion.
Gabriel de Guzman is Curator of Visual Arts at Wave Hill, a public garden and cultural center in the Bronx. He has also organized exhibitions and published essays for the Bronx Museum of the Arts, Rush Arts Gallery, the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, Boricua College, the Affordable Art Fair, and The Jewish Museum. He earned an M.A. in art history from Hunter College.
Salt-laden Air, 2014 Acrylic on Mylar panel 40 x 30 inches
Lavender Wash, 2013 Acrylic on Mylar panel 40 x 60 inches
Ripe, 2014 Acrylic on Mylar panel 24 x 30 inches
Turning Moments, 2014 Acrylic on Mylar panel 30 x 40 inches
Twitchy Light, 2014 Acrylic on Mylar panel 30 x 80 inches
Warm Blast, 2013 Acrylic on Mylar panel 40 x 30 inches
Honeyed Haze, 2012â€“13 Acrylic on Mylar panel 40 x 60 inches detail this page
Hungry Teal, 2012 Acrylic on Mylar panel 40 x 50 inches
Pale Azure, 2014 Acrylic on Mylar panel 40 x 50 inches
Hot Chimera, 2015 Acrylic on Mylar panel 40 x 60 inches
Jackie Battenf ield is known for her luminous paintings and prints of natural forces. Her works explore her fascination with the most abstract qualities of landscape â€“ most recently the natural unfolding and leaf ing of a tree branch. Moments of Change, a survey of her graphic works, was organized in 2009 by Richard Waller at the Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art, University of Richmond, Richmond, VA (catalog with essay by Nancy Princethal). It later travelled to the University of Arizona Museum of Art, Tucson, AZ. Recent solo exhibitions include: Another Garden, Wave Hill, Bronx, NY (2014), and Field Notes, Addison/Ripley Fine Art, Washington D.C. (2012) along with Town & Country, a two-person exhibition at Allyn Gallup Contemporary, Sarasota, FL (2013). Group exhibitions include: The American Institute in Taiwan, Taipai; the United States Embassy, Tel Aviv, Israel; DM Contemporary, New York, NY; Addington Gallery, Chicago, IL; and Michele Mosko Fine Art, Denver, CO. Reviews of her work have appeared in The Washington Post, Chicago Herald Tribune,
The New York Times, and Art on Paper. She is the recipient of a PollockKrasner Award, the David Alfaro Siqueiros Award, the Pennsylvania State University Arts and Architecture Alumni Award, and the U.S. Fulbright Specialist Program Grant. Her work is represented in more than 500 collections worldwide including: the New York Public Library, NY; The Zimmerli Art Museum, NJ; Montclair Art Museum, NJ; Palmer Museum, PA; University of Arizona Museum of Art, AZ; Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art, NC; the Progressive Corporation, OH; and the United States Embassy Collections, Brazil, Cambodia, Croatia, Jamaica, and Peru. She is the author of The Artistâ€™s Guide: How to Make a Living Doing
What You Love, Da Capo Press, 2009 and teaches in the MFA Program at Columbia University, School of the Arts in New York City. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1950, she received her MFA in Visual Art from Syracuse University and a BS degree from Pennsylvania State University. She lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Above Image: Wave Hill Spring Magnolia, 2014 Acrylic on Mylar panel 40 x 50 inches exhibition photo at Wave Hill House Back Cover Image: In Flame, 2012 Acrylic on Mylar panel 60 x 80 inches
Catalog for the exhibition MIRAGE at Kenise Barnes Fine Art, May 30 - July 11, 2015