Saturday, September 8, 2007

Dee Sanchez: New Mexico Evening

Introduction
Dee Sanchez translates an element of painting, the line, into an element of style. This most basic component of the art becomes a leading force in her artwork, endowing it with primeval energy and sensibility. If usually it is the colors that speak to the viewer (other elements echoing in assent), here it is the lines -- and they sing, in a chorus, sometimes performing a piece on the scale of a Bach's cantata. But perhaps even a more distant comparison is due, that to the rhythmic African drums, as when the lines permeate a painting, they fill it with a repetitive rhythm, which as if arises from the cradle of the civilization rather than from its refined temples. Regardless of one's musical, or painterly tastes, pure rhythm communicates a compelling sensation of initiation and belonging. Dee cultivates that sensation, in what turns out to be an anthropological study as much as works of art.

The lines, though added after color application, form the skeleton of the painting. They construct a foundation, in a reverse process -- something that becomes possible only due to their innate aesthetic supremacy. No matter where the viewer's eyes land, in each painting they will arrive somewhere, as each line will lead to the object it delineates. These lines form a multitude of quasi-labyrinths, from which there is always a way out, as the artist also assumes the ancient role of Ariadne, offering a safe exit in the form of said objects. Similarly to the mythical love story between the princess and Theseus, the artist forges a relationship with the viewer, except it is not of the romantic kind, carrying more of an aesthetic mutual value.

Dee notes when describing her working process that "after each piece is painted, every single shape, color, and shadow is isolated and outlined." A fascinating contrast arises: the most fundamental effects are achieved by the most sophisticated technique. This contrast, as well as the retroactive ink application, denotes stylization as the guiding factor in Dee's artwork; in turn, the latter serves to reaffirm advanced civilization, marking her paintings, though indirectly, as historically and sociologically conscious. But perhaps it is more relevant to focus on what sort of change the mentioned device produces: seemingly "harmless," soft and impressionistic pieces transform into sharp and deliberate paintings, which nevertheless retain the original mildness. Moreover, they attain a unique illustrative quality -- a true generic reincarnation. On top of that, Dee often leaves the decision on whether to incorporate the lines in a piece open for a democratic vote.

Dee Sanchez lives and works in Alameda, New Mexico, USA. She keeps a website and a blog where she publishes her work. You are also invited to visit her page on the Daily Painters Art Gallery.



The lines in this landscape produce a surprising effect: laid on the hills in the background, they reveal their geological stratification in a simulation of a cross section. I think that this feature corresponds with the mythical allusions mentioned in the introduction, though, on a more concrete, scientific level. This is the power of the line: it enables the artist to uncover the history and the process of creation, and the viewer to examine and study it. By making a scientific reference, the painter enriches and diversifies this piece. Interestingly, the vegetation also enjoys this development -- or should I say evolution -- as the lines may be depicting the fibres of the numerous leaves in this painting.

There is a pure visual accordance with the multitude of various interpretative levels and scales. The lines indeed divide everything here, but also connect: Dee appropriately named her technique as "Connected Isolationism." Looking at this painting I imagine a clew; what would happen if I pull the thread and untangle the clew? The artist answers this question at least partially, as every piece is a complete work of art before the lines are drawn. I think it amazing that a true artistic problem can be solved by technological interactive means. All one needs to do is follow the artist's blog and examine the initial painting. However, once the lines are there, the question assumes poignancy again, this time for eternity.

From a painterly viewpoint, the lines emphasize the perspective and join the colors to make this piece an effective landscape. Colors coordinate with each other in a harmony that reaches a peak in the depiction of the sky, where lines were given a rest. Soft, even playful gradation defines the atmosphere. This is a particularly notable characteristic, as the black of the lines quietly dominates this piece; it does not impose itself, however, appropriately delineating the evening mood. And on a final, more humorous note, the observer may indulge in spotting various animals or objects that the lines describe. I found at least three. This painting has a way with children, or with inner children -- depending upon the viewer.

1 comment:

Dee Sanchez said...

Elijah,
I read your article on daily painters - excellent!
Dee