There are the encouraging words I received from my friend Judy Sato when I posted on Facebook my latest collages. Thank you Judy and I believe I will!
I have been working with a small series of paper pieces combining Sumi E Ink, graphite, pastel and Japanese Rice Paper. I then moved to small canvas pieces, then finally to a large 48″ x 56″ stretched canvas. Unfortunately I can barely move it because of its weight. But at least I have proven that large paintings are still possible for me!
I am an American contemporary artist and writer working primarily with mixed media. My paintings and collage work juxtapose diverse imagery to explore ideas of emerging fragmentation and reconstruction through fluctuating recognition and realization. These perceptions then can transform into a meaningful and unified whole.
It is my intention that the viewer look at one of my paintings as if one is sifting through an archeological dig of the subconscious mind, moving as though through layer upon layer of earth. Barely recognizable forms emerge from the surface of the paintings into a conscious gestalt where meanings are meant to galvanize through the viewer’s own personal references and connections.
My work comes from a deeply personal and intuitively expressionistic perspective. I want to create work that I can view as reflective of my own personal responses to environmental and cultural influences and experiences both surrounding me as well as moving through me at any given moment. Creating art allows me to assimilate and make sense of the world and of myself. Painting can serve as an anthropological tool moving through the subconscious mind, allowing for self-reflection and a greater comprehension of the world.
Movement through brushwork, markings and layered, open passages lead the viewer on a journey of discovery, enabling the creation of a myriad of associations and insights. Through observing the relationships of applied materials to a surface, layers of seemingly random associations can merge into realization, recognition and insight.
My materials often include Sumi e Ink, Calligraphy brushes, charcoal, pastel, watercolor, acrylic and a variety of papers including Japanese rice paper and canvas.
I have been greatly influenced by artists from the past. Matisse has influenced and inspired my love of brilliant color and its interactions. I have also been greatly inspired by the expressive paintings of the abstract expressionists such as Helen Frankenthaler for her bold and sensitive use of organic poured paint shapes, by Franz Kline for his stark use of diagonal bold lines and stark contrast and by Robert Rauschenberg for his unique juxtaposition of cultural icons into a variety of assembled collages.
Though I began my journey as a realistic figure artist, I quickly became inspired by all of the Abstract Expressionist painters of the 20th Century. Upon this discovery, I moved into my lifelong exploration of the abstract and expressive modes of painting and drawing. I have continued pursuing this vein of expressive exploration as a professional painter for over 35 years, and feel that I am just beginning to find buried treasures through the process of the creative discovery.
By Jan Kirstein
Many thanks to inspiration fro Nancy Hillis’ book: “The Artist’s Journey.”