Preview: Jennifer Goodman, by Ted Snell
JENNIFER GOODMAN REFERS constantly to the principles of harmony, balance, geometry, stability, structure, symmetry and asymmetry. They are the foundation that underpins her practice. In the past this dance with equilibrium was played out within the structure of the grid, but since her 2010 exhibition, Ocular Spectra, she has dismantled that stylish geometry and fabricated a space in which arabesques loop elegantly. Captured within the strict rectangular frame of the canvas, this exploration of pictorial space extends endlessly in a parallel universe of non-referential, abstract meandering. At first her recent paintings seem like a complete break, a rupture with a previously stable world and headlong entry into one in which forms play with each other, lock and uncouple, find their place then shift, never to fix rigidly. If Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg could split irreversibly over the introduction of a diagonal into the strict geometry of the grid, how must the Jennifer Goodman of the geometric works come to terms with her arabesque self? However, in truth there is much that links these bodies of work, and while the containing geometry has receded into pictorial space, its organising principles remain. The same freshness and energy that informed those earlier works is still evident and her meticulously and methodically painted works retain a vibrancy that belies their long gestation and fabrication. I have a passion, she says, “to mix all my colours in order that they be specifically emotionally and idiosyncratically mine”. This is the moment of recognition and acquaintance when the family resemblance infiltrates and the relationships become clear. Like siblings with different personalities and characteristics, their DNA is slowly revealed after a considered engagement of any of these new works. We come to see their similar idiosyncrasies, their common traits, their nuanced harmonies and in myriad ways we come to understand their genetic structure. Collage is the “formal thinking device” that has provided the catalyst for this evolution. Cutting into coloured paper has enabled
Jennifer Goodman’s leap into the openness and expansiveness of this new pictorial venture is indicative of a heightened level of sophistication and technical dexterity.