Amy Sillman wrote a thoughtful catalog essay for “Laura Newman: Glass Walls and Billboards,” a 2010 exhibition at the Anna Leonowens Gallery, at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in� Halifax. Here’s an excerpt from an edited version that appears in the latest Art Critical.�
“If one considers the notion of the parallax view as a function of this work, one quickly arrives at the flipside of the parallax coin: the blind spot.� Sure enough, though seeing is key to Newman�s work, at its core is the implication of a psychic blind spot.� The emphasis on sight, through the many vistas, vanishing points and spatial geometries, implies that there must be some witness, some beholder, some subject at the heart of the action, a gaze that must proceed from SOMEWHERE.� But this spot goes undescribed, and is located only at a vortex of blindness.� There is at the center of Newman�s work a sense of silence, of immobility or non-inflection, as though the psychic subject of her paintings is a gaze from a void.� It is this strangely voided subjectivity in the work that gives Newman�s paintings their feeling of serene, almost majestic, anxiety.� The qualities of emptiness and flatness seem to stand for seeing itself, and a subject who has, to a certain extent, disappeared.� This self is therefore equivalent to the mind�s eye(s): paradoxical, interior.
“Self as disappearance is a contradictory effect in a kind of painting with such strong ties to subjectivity and embodiment as Newman�s.� Her work owes much to a tradition of muscular painterly gestures and the trial-and-error procedures of expressionism.� But as Newman�s work often functions through its dualities � its sets of opposing images, like double windows or walls, twin bands of color, or twin sets of cloud formations � by extension, this is not a simplistic kind of expressionism.� The overarching tension in her paintings is located in a dynamic opposition of presence vs. void, seeing vs. feeling.� It is as though her paintings describe a place between forces or events, like a big optical hug, where two arms come to hug you and yet never quite cross over each other to exert any physical pressure or weight.� A Lacanian would have a field day with this voided location; a Freudian would go to town with these dynamics of parent and child; a Zen monk would love the underlying implication of emptiness; a slapstick director would go crazy for the way everything is on the verge of falling apart.� Newman is a little bit of all of these.” Read more.
Newman’s work is included in “Rhyme, Not Reason,” a group show curated by John Yau at Janet Kurnatowski, Brooklyn, NY. Other artists include Marilyn Lerner, David Rhodes, Sherman Sam, and Karla Wozniak. September 10 – October 10, 2010.