Thursday, August 4, 2011

Wherein the Twin Visage Appears

body 15, after Michael Joyce's "ivory" (2011) by Alexandra Grant

I've been thinking about the relationship between text and image recently. This line of contemplation started a few months back when I viewed the "Ed Ruscha: On the Road" exhibit at the Hammer Museum. I found the selection of Kerouac's text paired with Ruscha's painted patterns or imagery to be an interesting combination of the textual and pictorial.

A few weeks later, I attended the opening of the Torrance Art Museum's annual group show, Baker's Dozen III, wherein a saw a couple paintings by Alexandra Grant that gave me another example of text and image combination. Like Ruscha's work, these works are inspired by a literary text. In this case, Grant is expressing her aesthetic response to the poetry of Michael Joyce, specifically a haiku cycle.

Here's a sample of the work:

thigh [body 13]

we have come to this

hollow where the mist lingers

along the narrows

It's an interesting piece. The full text can be read at Grant's website page for the "Body Series". In any case, that is the haiku. Here is her response to it:

body 13, after Michael Joyce's "thigh" (2009) by Alexandra Grant

A very intense image!

The arcs, word bubbles, colors, and line patterns combine to form a visual commentary. They create a mood, a vibe, that elaborates upon the poetry. Specifically, the text become visual elements of the interior abstract landscape, depicting the state of the painter's inspiration. It feels as though this is an abstraction of the brain, with its two symmetric hemispheres processing the words from literal signifier to emotive imagery.

Here are a few details of the painting. Notice the tactile presence of the layers of oil paint upon the linen. It feels like you can reach into the piece.

Detail of body 13, after Michael Joyce's "thigh" (2009) by Alexandra Grant

Combined with the overlapping words, arches, and bubbles, the surface texture creates a three dimensional quality. Incorporated into the cohesive form and structure of the painting, these words have a physical presence.

Detail of body 13, after Michael Joyce's "thigh" (2009) by Alexandra Grant

It's definitely an engaging image.

Here's a vid featuring Alexandra Grant. It ends a bit abruptly, but it's interesting nevertheless.

She did an interview on the night of the opening but I couldn't find the vid on-line. I wanted to get this post written before the Torrance show closes on August 27. If I find the interview footage of the show, I'll post it up in a full blown review of this group show. Or so I hope. ;-)

Here's Alexandra Grant's website.

And here's the Torrance Art Museum's website.


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