Joanne Landis: Prophetic Gestures

Opens First Friday: May 6th, 2016 @ 6pm

Join Gallery 425 in welcoming New York City Native, Joanne Landis, to her opening of Prophetic Gestures this First Friday, May 6th, 2016. Experience how a poet, turned fashion illustrator, turned painter tells a story across each canvass. Immerse yourself with her figures in motion, adorned with bold strokes and saturated colors.


“I am a story teller – a narrative painter. My figures, mostly women, are often meditations on archetypes, myth or personal experience. This allows me to build an environment inhabited by beings with all that it means to be human, alive and still in a dream.”

                                                                                                          -Joanne Landis


My paintings develop much like dreams. They alter and grow in ways I cannot imagine when I begin. For example: A painting I did recently called, “How Women Become Birds”, started with three figures of women in a line. I had been looking at photographs of tribal peoples in ritual dance. I painted the figures with very bold, simplified outlines, wanting to keep them “primitive”. The bold lines were necessary because I was painting over another painting that I had completed, but did not like. I often do this; each painting is typically three or four layers deep. The bold contours help me to “separate” from the previous layers. I then start to block in color. I wanted the figures to look the same – the same kind of eyes the same kind of hair, although their gestures were slightly different. I think to myself, “They are walking or dancing’, or, perhaps. it’s one woman moving in time across the canvas. I decide that although I have given them yellow hair, it’s cropped in such a way that they seem Egyptian. They become Egyptian. I want to give them circular necklaces – something that makes them “not naked.”

As I am painting across their bodies, the lines start to look like a shawl. I look at the figures. There’s an airy sense about them. They are in “no-space”, but a bit of a shape from the previous painting appears as “ground”. The figure on the right is leaving the canvas – leaving that ground. I decide she’s entering another plane and she’s about to leap off this plane. They all are lined-up to leap and I realize they will go into the air and then into the unknown. The shawl of the woman on the left I now see as feathers. They all will have feathers or wings about them. They will all take this leap to fly and become birds. All of this happened over the course of many days of painting.

After I have resolved this “story” (which is critical to me, for the painting to be successful) a day or two later,  I read Carl Jung. Coincidentally, he is talking about various ancient cultures that believed the soul becomes “feathered” (Babylonian?). Also, in another passage, he spoke of birds being an omen of death. This confirmed the intuitive process for me. The women leave this plane – they die – become birds and live in spirit.

I try to use the plane of “life in the body”, my knowledge of my own body; the female form as it exists in the world and how it also transcends this world. The paintings are then personal meditations on my own life, myth, and my reach toward universal archetypes. If my reach is successful the story will be accessible and usable to all who view it.



Photos courtesy of Joanne Landis