Joanne Robertson, Feels, 2 September – 23 October 2021

Joanne Robertson’s large-scale paintings evoke a rhythm of process and improvisation
that connects directly to the artist’s intertwined music practice. Her layered approach to
painting creates depth and movement; the brushstrokes an extension of the artist’s hand
as she moves across the canvas with fluid precision. Sometimes, bodies appear abstracted
in her canvases, hidden between layers of paint, while others allude to the written word
in sweeping gestures. Working on several at once, the coats of oil paint dry in phases,
retaining their distinct layers of color, allowing time for work on multiple paintings. From
corner to corner and canvas to canvas, areas develop organically through half chance
and pleasing combinations; Robertson employs no overly determined pictorial devices.
While the figure is less dominant in Robertson’s recent paintings, they are still identifiable
for their figurative qualities. Spending time with these works reveals more to the viewer,
between the paint, stand figures, sometimes outstretched, some retracted. An arm, a
breast, a penis, and a nipple are fragments of bodies that signal through abstraction.
Robertson’s motivation to take the viewer outside of their surroundings to places,
sometimes pastoral and others tinged with menace and confusion, colors blending and
edges indistinct, remains simultaneously personal, intimate, and generous. The possibility
to envelope oneself within the layers of paint, thickly rendered topography, and familiar
figuration offer an open door to Robertson’s creative process. (Steven Cairns)