The bold paintings of Janet Olney caught my attention for the deliberate emphasis on layering. The forms' various levels of transparency reveal the process she uses to reach the final image; in some cases the paint from the previous layer affects the one on top of it like in Red Star; in other cases, like Fission or Urumqi Time, undulating shapes and lines are broken up and reconnected through the process of layering.
These works imply a sense of incompleteness, or the future unknown. I don't mean "incomplete" in the sense that the paintings appear formally unfinished, but that the process, or the journey that Olney's whorling forms have taken to reach this point is continual. I get the impression that these paintings are like snapshots during the course of an infinite process of dismantling and building up. Olney describes her practice in terms of defining "the boundaries of knowing." She explains in her statement:
Contemporary space is a hybrid of the physical and virtual and my ability to establish reality with the senses is erratic. In the studio, my work deconstructs and reassembles the spatial experience as a method of understanding reality.
Interested in the juxtaposition of and space between the virtual and physical, Olney uses digital painting as a reference, literally beginning with a virtual representation of an idea and then transferring it to the physical canvas with a combination of thick paint, washes, and abstract shapes. As subsequent layers either conceal or reveal certain parts of the image, each painting continually evolves.
Janet Olney is currently adjunct professor of drawing and painting at MICA. Find more work and information at janetolney.com.
All images courtsey of and © Janet Olney.