Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wonder Women: Q&A with Janet Werner in today's National Post

Montreal's Janet Werner makes paintings of women that I find really interesting. Often, for me, they contain tension around ideas of female experience, conflicts between idealized appearance and lived reality. Today's National Post ran my brief Q&A with Werner on where she feels the work comes from. Here's an excerpt:

Q I wanted to talk about the strong sense of tension in your paintings. Where does that come from?

A In some of my paintings, a little bunny or bear or Dalton figurine can be isolated against a kind of cosmic, empty space. And I sometimes situate the women in these really artificial paint-by-number landscapes. So I was giving a talk about this show, trying to address the sense of dislocation that's produced, and someone said, "Oh, so it's about innocence and loss." And I was like, "Yeah." I sort of circle around that without naming it, quite often.

Q What kinds of innocence and loss are you talking about?

A Well, I guess it would be fairy-tale fantasy ideals. These are, after all, idealized figures in idealized landscapes. All of us get our ideals set up differently, but in the case of girls, it's often princess-y dreams that are developed. The reality is that those dreams don't materialize. Still, the imaginings that are so alive when we're younger remain in play as adults. And I think that's what a lot of advertising and fashion images are addressing -- often in pretty complex ways, actually.

Werner's paintings are on view at the Art Gallery of Windsor in a solo show through to January 31, with new work debuting at Parisian Laundry in March.

(Image of Werner's Bambi 2005-6 from Parisian Laundry)


pixo said...

Great painterly paintings!

Leah Sandals said...

Hi Pixo - Yes, they are painterly, and I think they might be getting even more so in the March show. We'll see!