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FLORENCE PUTTERMAN: Artist's Statement

Florence Putterman

My paintings and works on paper have long explored how to develop a modern visual equivalent to the deeply felt interrelationship of earth and cosmos sacred to primitive cultures. I work with thick broad shapes and strong vivid colors and sensuous surfaces to create dense symbol-filled pictures. They do not always depict a certain event, but suggest. They don’t speak directly but presuppose in the mind knowledge of an event or fact. In the process of working these symbols together, sometimes narratives emerge, but are not planned at the outset. Themes of good and evil, comedy and tragedy, philosophical and global concerns on the fate of the earth and the species that inhabit it, are all evident in these works.

My canvases are painted on a textured surface of crushed shells and sand. These are prepared with coats of gesso and then the sand is applied and allowed to harden. This surface is then encased with several more coats of gesso and an acrylic medium. This is set aside to dry for a few weeks and then the canvases are ready to receive paint.

I examine the world through my painting. And my work usually springs from an actual experience visually recalled and made permanent. They can also be a sort of reverie bringing back many recurring memories from earlier works involving the non-verbal communicative symbols of early man studied during my National Endowment grant in 1979, mingled with childhood visions and dreams. My themes and images are concerned with man, his environment and his interrelationships with all living creatures.

My work began with an exploration of nature, sometimes seen close-up and sometimes at a distance. My focus then shifted to an investigation of certain basic forms that occur in nature, resulting in more abstract works. Gradually I returned to human forms and narratives involving humankind and all creatures that inhabit the earth. My interest and explorations in the monotype medium began in the early seventies and I continue to learn new facets of this exciting medium, each day. Sometimes I transfer the images from paper to canvas and sometimes I do paintings with themes from the monotypes. My monotypes are created by painting on formica or previously etched plates and then transferring the image through a press. I then continue working on the piece with colored pencils, oil pastels or paint. The addition of drawing further tightens the composition and heightens the feeling of special energy in the work.

When I am painting, I am only aware of the canvas and what it tells me to do. I am not as concerned with actual representation of images as much as I am concerned with arousing the senses of the viewer. I like to work in series with similar images in each painting but varying these images by focusing on different ideas and connections in each work. In all the works there is an urgent plea for the earth interspersed with a reminiscent look back.

- Florence Putterman