An Appreciation by Tom Maderos
There are contradictions, questions, and overlapping truths in Claire Thorson’s art—in other words, it’s visionary as well as optical. Light advances on shadow, then turns away from it; space is made from its own obstructions. In a painting like Tumble, color may thicken into surface and mass, four joined lines of a similar blue might be a box or a back, but they are always also the features of a map. It’s a map of the painter’s path of construction and the possible path of reconstruction by the viewer.
interpenetrated by it.
A painter may go into her studio with a purpose, but the engagement of brush on canvas, or chalk on paper can record a break in the chain of intention. In art, especially in drawing, a distinction is often made between what we observe and what we invent, but both invention and close observation can be forms of reverie. Like any good quantum mechanic, a painter moves the pieces around and notes the shift in heart-rate.
The practical and spiritual value in questioning perception is clearly present in these images. We most often feel that we are moving through the world, but at other times it seems as if the world is moving through us. When these two perceptions are placed side by side, as they often are in Claire Thorson’s work, the resultant sense of “reality” is fluid and multi-dimensional—3, 4, 5-D or more.
The individual images, seen here in series, generate their own history, and the relationship of drawing to painting strengthens. These are public marks of a private activity. Conventions for the illusion of depth and the color-indicators for skin or sky are adopted from the artist’s experience. In a drawing, black charcoal lines question the distinction between an arm and the movement of an arm, yet these same conventions are subtly modified in painting. The lushness of a drawn line and the lushness of a painted section can be roughly equivalent but never the same. Compare the drawing Transparency Of Time with the painting Arrival and see what I mean.
Art history as well as personal history threads its way through these images, but the game of “Spot The Influence” that bedevils most criticism is ultimately just a distraction. Artists have always tried to extend as well as honor inherited traditions. Claire Thorson’s work moves in that direction. What we see in her drawings and paintings feels lyrical and true.
Text © Tom Maderos, all rights reserved.
(Tom Maderos is a painter & writer who lives in Santa Cruz, California. You can see his work at “Paint & Words” http://tompaints.blogspot.com/ )
Artwork © Claire Thorson, all rights reserved. http://clairethorson.com
Video: Claire Thorson, Search for the Return
This time-lapse movie by Nada Miljkovic captures the drawing process of visual artist and educator Claire Thorson’s exhibition.Nada Miljkovic is the owner of Artist on Art, a Santa Cruz company helping people tell their stories. She produces videos and is the radio host of KZSC’s Artists on Art (Wednesdays at noon). For contact information and to see more of her work, go to ArtistOnArt.com.