2 April - 4 May 2019
JANET DAWSON presents Bright Night, a new series of abstract and representational paintings that celebrate her curiosity for the clouds and the moon.
A subject of long held affection, the moon first appeared in DAWSON’s early abstract, geometric paintings in the 1970s. The eve of the millennium was a time of great uncertainty with the prophesised collapse of civilisation DAWSON bought a telescope to paint the first of the tondos – articulating the moon upside down with all its character.
For DAWSON the return to the moon marks a new direction as she deftly melds representation and abstraction within the canvas. Working at night with the moon as her muse, DAWSON plays with the pictorial space of the canvas as she shifts in-between the representational still life of her studio to the formalist abstraction of the moon out her window. Drawing attention to its compositional quality she states, “The moon is a wonderful point on a surface, an activating force in a painting, it will draw the eye immediately to it”.
DAWSON has played with the potential of painting, with these new tondos recalling the circular shapes of her canvases in the 1960s when she first pushed outside the confines of the rectangle. Speaking to Christine Frances, Dawson recalled in 1968 American art critic Clement Greenberg attended her exhibition at Gallery A, he told her to stick to one thing. She listened politely but took no notice. Blue Clouds captures the intensity of DAWSON’s process, “there is to be very little time lost in thought between what you put on the canvas and how you do it. It is like action painting; I have to tinker very finely to get it exact, but I also have to bash it on to be immediate.” Remarking on this effect, Jenny Bell described Dawson’s paintings as seeming “to represent the moment caught, the multiple perspective, the transitional glimpse of something about to become something else”.
Looking to the moon and the sky, what remains consistent in her every shifting practice is DAWSON’s fascination to observe and depict the natural world around her.