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Monday, December 24, 2007

Leslie Nolan

There is no need to waste time comparing Leslie Nolanís art to the great masters residing in the museums around the world. Nolanís work is a unique vision of the world around her. I have personally had the pleasure to get to know this wonderful artist and even to exhibit with her; yet every time I see her work on display - I am stunned. Her work is always fresh and deep in expressive gesture. I will also try not to waste time talking about each and every individual piece; as she produces so many all with equal energy. Leslie Nolanís subject matter is varied, but tend toward the human figure and landscape, never seeming to combine the two. In this show she tends to separate the two ideas as she continually experiments with the design possibilities of each.

It is this experimentation that makes Nolanís work unique. She never seems to hesitate with her designs. Her unrestricted use of color in many paintings shoves into the face of many viewers her possibility. She will use a palette of neon colors for one image, and then swiftly move to a somber achromatic vision of a similar design for the next. It is this willingness that expresses her range and her deep understanding of the artistic process. In her landscapes she seems to experiment with this idea of color. She keeps the same composition in several of her landscapes, but varies her color choices and shows them all to the viewer. Is it times of day, or is she just playing?

Nolan would like you to feel the sense of playfulness in many of her paintings, but the truth is that she wants to be taken seriously. It is hard to find playfulness in many of her paintings of the figure. The stances of the figures are typically contemplative and strong. Her palette is more deliberate, and her mark is always expressive. People become shadows or visions of the world in which Nolan lives, observations of the physical as well as mental state in which we also live. The figures tend to a sort of isolation, while her mark is aggressive and present.

The work that she presents borders between the abstract and the figurative. One cannot place her work on either side of that fence. Though a subject might be easily read in many of her works, her understanding of color and gesture allow her to pull out deeper meanings from her compositions that imbue her subjects with that more psychic or emotional impact. Her figurative sense appeals to the viewerís relationship to the world in which they live. The viewer is forced to connect with the figures, their gestures, their contemplation. The abstract color, the play of warm versus cool, or the highly keyed color schemes will play to the viewerís emotions as well, completing the presence of the painting.

Nolanís work is always astounding. Her paintings could be said to pull from such a wide gamut of 20th century art, that it becomes difficult to begin listing them all. It is better said, that these are ďNolansĒ and should be taken as such. Only someone with a personality like hers and willingness to fail (though let us hope it never happens) can create works as great as these that appeal to such a broad and adoring audience. I am still glad to have had the pleasure to exhibit with her in the past. Hopefully I will be able to do so again in the future.

See her work at leslienolan.com


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