Gail Mangold-Vine

When I first saw Jane’s art about a year ago at a small exhibit in Geneva, its impact was immediate. It went straight to some deep-seated knowledge I held. No detours via concepts and comparisons processed in my head were necessary. No one, including myself, needed to explain these paintings to me. In Jane’s work, I recognized a light that could emerge only because it had addressed, and accepted to co-exist respectfully with, the dark. I felt the conflict and ultimate harmony of this both personally and as universal truth.

A while later, I visited Jane in her studio, and saw some panels she was working on; they showed trees outside her window. This figurativeness was the first difference I saw with the work I’d seen earlier, which was largely abstract.  The second difference was that the earlier work appeared textured and layered, whereas here there was a kind of two-dimensionality.  But the basic theme appeared to me to be the same:  a tug upwards towards unseen light, and downwards towards invisible goblins and gremlins, gargoyles and grotesques. The tug was accentuated by the elongated format of the panels and by the contrast of leaves in the sun and their dark underside. I thought Jane was exploring the same thing as in the earlier paintings but in another way, and asked her if the panels were finished.  Surprised, she replied: ‘No, they don’t have the depth yet.’

I understood, when she said that, that there was a third difference in those tree panels: unlike my understanding of the art in the Geneva exhibit, my appreciation of the tree paintings had been through the head, processing comparisons and concepts. And Jane’s answer had let me know that ultimately these panels would come to resemble the abstract work, after her layering and texturing had called forth the underlying (invisible) reality of the trees. When the paintings were finished, I might no longer be able to recognize the trees in the panels – but I would hear their voice, see their soul.

And I realized something else.  If Jane’s work is built on the necessary polarities and inherent conflicts of back and forth, light and dark, high and low, up and down, the direction of energy in her paintings is ultimately circular. That circular energy of essential rhythms, the seasons, sun-moon, birth-death, the round of the mother’s arms as she holds her infant, the circular motion of stirring food in a pot – is what delivers the sense of harmony and peace that emanates from Jane’s work. It is from that circle that she hears the voice in everything – the tuft of moss, the quivering leaf – and she can only get into it by engaging her own deities and demons and working her way into the depths, burrowing and layering and burnishing until the glow emerges. That fight, and that glow from the circle, is what I recognize as part of my personal process and as universal truth, and it is beautiful, and profoundly hopeful.

Jane Le Besque