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NANCY JOHNSON
BROOKLYN, NY



ARTIST STATEMENT: Of late, I have been collecting porcelain figures: a menagerie of dogs, deer, birds, cowboys, and princesses. I find them both nostalgic and humorous. I have also amassed a vast collection of samples and swatches of the most beautiful fabrics made to upholster the finest salons of New York Society. The richness of their color and the complexity of their patterns captivate me. These are the things that surround me, and I paint them. My paintings have an insular, intimate quality consisting mostly of still lifes and self-portraits. I have discovered that my porcelains and fabrics allow me to create table-top universes in which I could play with elements of scale, the dynamic between foreground and background, to blur the distinction between two-dimensional and three-dimensional space. Dogs become giants, and people made to cower in their shadows, all in good humor. Background patterns become jungles for the porcelains to become entangled in, activating a focus on the negative space enveloping them. They are discreet, hermetically-sealed universes in which I control every element, down to the angle of the raking light that creates the shadows that fall on the foreground and the background, belying their true space. A great deal of consideration is given to the formal composition and spatial relationships. I arrange my figurines and fabrics by how they fit, by height or color, how shapes and line flow and weave, with the goal of striking a harmonious balance of mass and space. But lately, I have been looking beyond the formal aspects of these compositions, and paying more attention to the symbolic and narrative power that these figurines can hold, and in future works, being more mindful of their potential to tell a story. But, still, most importantly, I get caught up in trying to capture the crisp coldness of the porcelain, the texture of the silk satin, using the right value and intensity of the right color in the right spot as quickly and as accurately as I perceive them. I get caught up in the physicality and craft of painting, its viscosity and malleability. When the oils and pigments coalesce and congeal to an almost 3D effect, that is when I reach my personal nirvana.
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