Continuing through November 3, 2012
Painter Elisa Johns’ work is known for its sensuously rendered metaphors, antiquity, and examinations of the feminine. But in her current exhibition, “Palisades,” the Los Angeles-based artist lets go of the dependence on the figure for content, instead pushing forward the lush landscapes that were previously mere backdrops for her complex allusions. The figures are not entirely gone from this series, rather Johns isolates subjects and landscapes, stretching out a narrative among these six paintings that requires a measured consideration from her viewers.
Johns’ landscapes, referencing California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, convey the unmistakable essence of such terrain, simultaneously grand, silent and severe. In works like "North Palisade Peak" inky washes and glistening daubs of oil paint are applied with thoughtful sparseness, activating the vast areas of white negative space. This blank space is no afterthought: the dense, velvety surface achieved through a layering of gesso and modeling paste is remarkably substantial, reinforcing the weight and iciness of the subject, as well as the humanity of the artist’s relationship to this landscape.