Francesca Sundsten's exhibition Portraiture at Jenkins Johnson Gallery is worth taking the time out to visit.
Tweet, 2010, oil on canvas, 12 x 12 inches
The traditional compositional standard of the centralized figure in portraiture provides a foundation for this body of work. The stability of the image allowed me to experiment with and explore elements that paint allows: atmosphere, shifts in palette, and minor abstractions.
It seems a mode of the times that we're each experiencing some form of identity crisis and re-evaluation of the status quo. In a way, these paintings go back to the self as reference for examination, each, whether human or animal, are a concocted version of a possible 'me'. It was interesting to allow myself greater breadth in the final collection of works, allowing each painting to become what it wanted to be rather than trying to tie them together in a more imposed fashion. It seemed a good time to push my boundaries. I hope to continue.
I also looked for a sense of lightness and air in the work, though in the end the ones lighter in value became darker in mood, while the darker in palette became more humorous. This is something I've only realized in retrospect as it was unintentional. If there is one thing that ties my work together through the years, it's the constant factor of dichotomy: realism/abstraction, graphic/atmospheric, humor/horror, beautiful/ disturbing, traditional/pop, observed/imagined, and so on. The combining of these opposites that appear to be mutually exclusive is my key to painting.
Artist statement courtesy of Francesca Sundsten and Jenkins Johnson Gallery, San Francisco
Tenebrium, 2010, oil on canvas, 40 x 40 inches
Deer, 2010, oil on canvas, 40 x 40 inches
Ether, 2010, oil on canvas, 24 x 24 inches
Owl, 2010, oil on canvas, 24 x 24 inches