Themes of Garden, Landscape, Experience and Memory
Susan Martin & Russell Steinert
While working on Lemon, a video-short about Russell, painting and a slice of family history, themes of garden, landscape, experience and memory came forward. In response to the video, our friend, California artist Susan Martin shared a journal entry made twenty years ago while in residence at Giverny at the Fondation Monet in Giverny, France. The last day of Susan’s residency, she happened to meet the painter Joan Mitchell in the train station heading to Paris. Joan invited Susan to lunch and a studio visit followed.
While searching for her journal detailing this surreal moment, Susan rediscovered a small box of drawings she made on Polaroids while at Giverny. In those summer months, wandering in Monet’s footsteps she had taken photographs of garden views, applied oil stick in the studio to the surface of the image then slowly scraped it off in small repetitive gestures. This drawing intervention, immersed in those garden moments, was a processing of experience – journaling. As we enter into summer, it seemed appropriate to feature these small acts by projecting them life-size on the wall, the past colliding with the present.
In yet another box this time at Russell Janis, were works Russell made around the same time as Susan’s garden Polaroids. With cut paper, watercolor and pencil, Russell uses geometry to create imaginary landscapes. By repopulating the horizon with simple shapes, this distillation is used as a means to get to the essence of the image, keeping the figure-ground relationships simple, formal. In both groups of work, the tweaking of familiar images, the artist gives shape to experience to broaden personal awareness, presenting viewers with a universal language to make their own.
See also Susan Martin, Giverny Revisited (Prints) on Susan’s follow-up-to-the-exhibition printmaking project at Russell Janis.