JUDITH MEYERS OLINSKY
Two Portfolios of Explorations in Feminine Identity:
Welcome to the World, Baby Girl and The Ruby Slipper Suite.
A GALLERY TALK
NOVEMBER 30 -JANUARY 2
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Judy is a self-taught painter, which accounts for the oddity/uniqueness of her aesthetic. She is mostly a portrait painter with a still evolving style. The way she wants to paint is somewhere between Alice Neel and Larry Rivers, with a touch of Francesco Clemente and keeps pushing forward in hopes of developing a consistent style of her own.
She has a friend who paints the Goddess and the Earth Mother. When she looked at her friend’s work about feminine strength, she realized that part of what she had been painting is the soft vulnerable under belly of the feminine principle. Most of her work seems to be exploring the boundaries and the demands of the role of being a woman; from the beginning of time, from her grandmother’s generation to her own. Judy doesn’t have a daughter so she can only speak of the current generation from the vantage point of her own experience. She is seeking to a have a clear sense of the lines between being a woman and a self.
Judy comes out of the I950’s ethnic, working-class, patriarchal definitions of gender roles. She didn’t start out thinking about feminist issues but it seemed, as a woman who lived through the second wave of feminism, she didn’t have much choice. She lived through a time that questioned gender identity. Gender role confusion was what was on her mind. Without realizing it at first, she has been using art to explore the issue of identity and of gender.
In addition to trying to find out what it means to be a self, she is trying to fit that self into the body of a woman. Or, maybe she has been trying to find out what it means to become a self in the body of a woman.
Judy agrees with Picasso, when he said “Painting isn’t an aesthetic operation; it’s a form of magic designed as a mediation between this strange hostile world and us, a way of giving form to our terrors as well as our desires.”
As to the themes of her overall subject matter, it appears part of what she is doing is creating a visual diary in the tradition of Frieda Kahlo and Joan Brown. All time exists at the same time and she keeps moving back and forth in time from now to childhood, to the previous generations, to the ancient world trying to see or to make sense of life. She quotes Faulkner regarding time when he says “the past isn’t dead, it isn’t even past.” When she paints, time doesn’t matter. Space doesn’t seem to matter either, for sometimes the inside is outside and the outside is inside. The outer world and the inner world bleed back and forth. On canvas, matter, psyche and spirit all exist at the same time, in varying ratios and on shifting planes. In painting and in life Judy finds that it is always hard to find a place to put things, even parts of herself.
What keeps her going is the hope that her painting will someday come close to what Clement Greenberg expressed about Milton Avery when he said,” His paintings show once again how relatively indifferent the means of art becomes when force of feeling takes over.”
See more portfolios from Judy on her website.