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Judith Mann, Untitled
ink and contť on paper
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(b. 1948 Buffalo, NY; lives in Amherst, MA)
ink and conté on paper
Diptych, each panel: 50.7 x 61 cm
Mount Saint Vincent University Collection
Traditionally, windows have been employed in paintings as openings, often from dark interiors onto landscapes, representing philosophical ways of framing the world. Mannís windows do not open onto views. Many, like these drawings, are completely opaque, and the few that are transparent only lead the eye into shallow architectural space or the blank stare of an opposite wall.
Formally situated in the Modernist abstract tradition, their cropped geometric structures, white borders, and dense gray textures encourage me to read these drawings as surfaces but as windows, the images allude to the possibility of looking through (a possibility frustrated in this instance) and to the earlier history of painting as illusory space. I enjoy the palpable tensions that arise from such dualities. The diptych form itself contributes, for the images that at first appear to be contiguous parts of the same window, cannot be exactly aligned.
Of her work, Mann states Once the formal properties are established, the impact of the work lies in its use of the long tradition in art history of windows as metaphors. This work is the result of long hours of solitude and contemplation; and the personal and poetic are of great importance to it. Mannís work can be viewed as a direct response to her time in Halifax, living on a boat, and working within the 1980s Nova Scotia College of Art and Design climate of conceptual art with its rejection of symbolic imagery. Susan Gibson Garvey suggests Mann used windows to frame an existential void asking if the work arose from contemplating the lurking blackness of a starless night, when the immeasurable sky cannot be distinguished from the illimitable ocean? Would the unsettling experience of boundlessness inevitably lead someone to focus on the limiting frames of windows, upon reaching the shore?
KB and from Now Appearing S. Gibson Garvey
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