DC Moore Gallery
Landscape is Yvonne Jacquette's subject but it is not precisely what her art is about. It is about being at great heights, seeing what one can see, and deciding what sort of sense to make of the spectacle’s immensity. -Carter Ratcliff
- Additional Information -
Yvonne Jacquette’s paintings bring a sense of magic to the physical features of cityscapes and landscapes as viewed from airplanes and high buildings. This exhibition focuses on recent aerial views of New York and Chicago done from vantage points such as New York’s World Trade Center and Chicago’s Sears Tower. Many of Jacquette’s paintings and pastels incorporate multiple perspectives or composite viewpoints while in others feathery brush-strokes abstract and soften the physical features of the landscape.
"More open space between buildings at the ‘sky-scraping’ level was evident in Chicago," Jacquette explains."But the New York views had a unique situation: using windows in both towers of the World Trade Center, I could look at the ‘same’ view from a slightly different angle, or from a higher floor. Therefore the conventional consistence of scale of objects or buildings could be ignored, in order for a freedom of visual activity: sometimes a subtle dislocation of space happened or a drastic one."
Jacquette first began working with aerial views in the mid-1970s, with the intention of capturing cloud formations and weather patterns. When a forecast indicated heavy cloud cover she would fly directly into it, making watercolors on the way. This worked quite well until one day, in mid-journey, the clouds vanished. Jacquette looked down at the landscape below and thought, "I don’t want to paint that. It would take me forever."
However, this is exactly what Jacquette has done. During the past few decades, there have been both daytime and nighttime views from airplanes, with the wing of the plane often incorporated as a visual anchor and geometric complement to the urban or rural landscape below. There have been series done in Tokyo and Hong Kong; Jacquette repeatedly seems drawn to the biggest and brightest cities. It was during a 1991 trip to Hong Kong that she began incorporating composite viewpoints in her works. The city’s multiple layers of complexity forced the realization that a fixed viewpoint was no longer adequate for communicating her vision. In recent years she has also experimented with taking material from disparate parts of the U.S. and recombining it into collage-like spaces. Most of Jacquette’s paintings begin as pastel sketches that juxtapose multiple views from airplane windows or elevated rooms. Following this direct observation the paintings are developed in the studio, with Jacquette carefully marking the surfaces with small strokes in bright hues, often against dark expanses. This enables the finished paintings to retain the impressionistic feel of the pastels and to register the effects of light, whether natural or electric, on the land. It has been suggested that it is perhaps in these networks of small strokes that the key to Jacquette’s work lies. She is a devotee of Buddhism and, as with Buddhist works of art, her paintings can convey messages on personal, societal, and global levels. One can become as immersed in how her lushly painted dots and dashes coalesce into a building or a body of water as one would in the intricate patterns of a Tibetan mandala or thangka. That both can be similarly captivating experiences is a testament to Jacquette’s success and skill as a painter.