New York

Lois Lane

Artists Space Exhibitions

Dear Lois Lane,

Never having seen your paintings before I can still understand why Jackie Winsor chose you to show in Artists Space. Your drawings and paintings have a quality of rawness similar to her sculpture: a rawness allowing you to get some of the same freshness in your big paintings as in your small drawings. I like the casual, open look of your work: the painting with the layer of badly wrinkled canvas casually stapled on top, the freehand one-shot pencil lines meandering across paper and canvas, or the mismatching of drawing and washy color. Your marks have a “take-it-or-leave-it ”quality more expected in certain kinds of Process sculpture. And yet there’s none of the painterly rhetoric of much lyrical abstraction, which is a drag. What I liked most, though, was that every work looked different. I get the impression you let different ideas generate different looking visual conclusions. That’s nice. In an age of seriality and signature art, I was beginning to despair of seeing paintings linked by intention or sensibility—not by look. Commercially the honing of single ideas is often, sadly, a must; what it means formally is that the life gets kicked out of things. 

Your drawings are casually adventurous. What size were they? About 30“ x 40”? Using color photographs taken from magazines as an index to the drawing lines you make, was a particularly nice idea, although again, you didn’t overdo it. The collaged photograph of a black man with painted white face overlapped onto a painted black rectangle “whited out” with a piece of transparent paper was my favorite. I also liked the completely different looking half-flower/half-phallic-symbol watercolor that you made into a big painting, and the one where the shape of a woman’s hat in a carnival photograph generated a serial pattern of clumsily drawn shapes around the photograph. I don’t know whether you’ve heard the comment about the famous painter who reportedly started as a genius and ended up as a student. Well, the story was meant to be derogatory; but at the present time I don’t think it is. I must say, in 1974 if “genius” stands for specialism, and “student” for general ism I grow more interested in life-long students. The point of this little story is “Don’t get too professional.”

James Collins