Earth and Air
Markham, Ontario artist Janet Read’s work…critically demarcates parts of our sublunary realm. In a series of small, mixed media Icons, products of an artist residency she did two years previously in Newfoundland, Read cleaves closely toward the representational end of the spectrum.
On square wooden panels, some with small stones embedded or attached with string, images of codfish teem over top of old maps and charts that show the Grand Banks fishing area that originally brought Europeans here several hundred years ago, or images of fishing boats from the day of sail and old photographs of everyday life out here at the edge of the continent.Individually and/or collectively, these are portraits (icons), remembrances of what once was (but is no longer courtesy of the depletion of the cod stocks) in a remarkable place where the earth meets the water meets the air. And in her sequence of paintings collectively entitled Ocean as Vessel (2007), Read addresses the power of abstraction and the aesthetic primacy of colour in large and intensely atmospheric works where dazzlingly primary regions of reds and blues predominate.
Fire and water.
Here, in the art of Janet Read, is the elemental stuff of the world holding sway still.