Janet Monafo writes, “There is no explaining my selection of materials and compositions except in visual terms.” And there’s no need to.
The everyday objects in her elegant compositions may have no relationship to one another. She says, “Most of the pictures that I have made over the years have been composed of complex assemblages of things that I love looking at for one reason or another. Quite often these things or objects do not relate to each other except within the context of the picture by color, shape, texture or form.”
At one point, weary of composing the objects, she dumped a number on the floor to paint from different angles—but she couldn’t resist tweaking the arrangement to make a better composition and to better translate to a two-dimensional surface.
Her pastels will be shown at LewAllen Galleries in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in the exhibition Janet Monafo: Gatherings. The exhibition continues through April 21.
Sedgwick Skull is a composition in whites, a frequent occurrence in her work. Old friends from other paintings appear—the oilcans and porcelain-enameled tin cups with the red or blue rims, Styrofoam and paper takeout containers, and the odd egg. What appears to be a relentlessly symmetrical composition is actually assembled with a syncopated rhythm that compels a longer look.
Viewing her work is no more static an experience than hers in creating it. She says, “The process of making a painting can be simple, complex, challenging, anxiety provoking and, now and then, pleasing. Working directly from observation with natural light from the north facing windows in my studio, I always make a number of drawings before I decide to go ahead with a pastel painting. The drawing, essential to working out the composition, is often primarily linear and for that reason do not give a real sense of the depth of form that will materialize with the inclusion of value and color in the painting. This results in a process which is not a static one, but one that evolves and can demand changes as the work proceeds.”
LewAllen Galleries 1613 Paseo de Peralta, Santa Fe, NM 87501 (505) 988-3250 • www.lewallengalleries.com
1 Sedgwick Skull, pastel on paper, 30 x 42" 2 Three Yellow Roses, pastel on paper, 46 x 37" 3 Variegated Float, pastel on paper, 36½ x 49" 4 Still Life with Lemons, pastel on paper, 48 x 35"