Clare Seidl - 2003
Artist Statement: January
I have been an abstract painter for twenty-five years, and a photographer for the past five. Some people see landscape in my paintings, and think them redolent of nature, but there are no specific references to landscape. Rather, it is visual thinking that directs the gestures and arm movements that in turn create the line, form and color. For me, visual thinking has to do with what I see when I look at things and what I see when I look again, in a different way slower, faster, blurred, juxtaposed with other things I have seen and think I know, and finally, what I want to see and what I want to remember. This kind of thinking includes emotion and feeling.
My paintings can be seen as sheer color and movement: forms and lines appear, disappear, overlap and join together to create other forms, to form the whole. Layers of paint create layers of space that can give off multiple readings: as pure abstraction; as metaphorical space or inner space; or as traditional landscape space with foreground, middle ground and background. There is darkness in the paintings, and light; speed and stillness; strength and softness. There are moods and secrets. There is color with its attendant associations. Something is being expressed, hinted at, something uniquely human.
I never paint in nature, en pleine air, nor do I work from nature. Going out into nature with a camera is as close to rendering a landscape or a still life or a figure as I want to get. Some people see my photographs as also being abstract, but I do not. The photographs are rooted in the real world of nighttime, children and landscape. They are not manipulated. They do show more than the unassisted eye can see. I use long or double exposures. I shoot reflections in and through glass and water, taking advantage of the natural distortions. I shoot through old window screens. I shoot at night, using flashlights, car headlights, sparklers and firecrackers. Sometimes I use only celestial light. Still, in my photographs, there are specifics of place and people and natural phenomena, and there is a sense of place. It may be that there is a sense of place in the paintings as well, even though they are not about place, but more of a place to stand, to say where I am.
Initially, my painter’s eye directed me in shooting photographs. Now I can see that photography is influencing my paintings. Geometric forms are appearing, and the composition has become structural, even architectural. And, perhaps because of its tangible nature, photography has provoked my paintings to become more personal and expressive. Conversely, elements intrinsic to painting, like gestural line, multiple layered space, and ambiguous form and content have become evident in the photographs. I would happily say that abstract painting and black and white photography have become great foils for one another in my work.