Donelle Woolford: Return

Wallspace, New York
September 10 – October 24, 2009

These paintings focus on Cubism’s obsession with surface tension and multiple points of view. They are influenced not only by my desire to revisit the synthetic innovations of Picasso and Braque, but also by my public exposure over the past few years and my increasing wish to have my paintings¯and myself—return the favor. As psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan wrote: “I am not simply the punctiform located at the point from which perspective is grasped. No doubt, in the depths of my eye, the picture is painted. The picture, certainly, is in my eye. But I, I am in the picture.”

This déjà vu of sorts occurs on many layers. For example, my collage paintings are assembled from scrap wood, a material that symbolizes feelings of both comfort and alienation because it comes from Nature and, since we are part of Nature, symbolizes a simultaneous recognition and disembodiment of ourselves. My paintings also resemble Cubism, an art movement whose perceptual innovations still haunt our notions of reality and identity, to the extent that the style itself can have the effect of looking in a mirror that is looking back at us. And then there is the character of myself: a conflicted, talented, 32-year-old artist making her way through the world any way she can, all the while enjoying the background privilege of an Ivy League education and the comfort of supportive professional parents.

It is through these plays of interpretation and memory that my story, Rashomon-like, contradicts itself and moves forward.