Joan Thorne

Fischbach Gallery

In a different way, Joan Thorne is also concerned with locating the inner self in or on the world. Like Snyder she feels her way through varying strokes and densities of paint. However, Thorne’s activity is more frenzied, building to a definitive climax. Liquid paint drags and scrapes across the surface, colors jangle or muddle, areas fill to suffocation, fingerlike squiggles pulsate in and out from and to the edges. The whole is more a map than exploratory journal. The personal language has already been evolved. It is not the marks themselves that are in question, but their location. What one is looking for is more interpretation than articulation. One accepts the information as a given and lets one’s eye push through the jungle of paint and lines along the numerous possible pathways. But accepting sounds too passive. The physicality of the paint and the gestural laying onto, scraping away from, and scratching into the surface both involve one directly in feeling out the space. Depth results from tactile as well as visual density. Direction follows physical movement. One becomes engaged in deciphering the map, instead of simply reading it.

In Sensor, for example, scraggled lines direct one from the edges to the center where the jarring yellow green quadrangle bounded in orange forces one out again into the maze of encroaching lines. Two other quandrangles delineate specific areas, while at the same time a profusion of brushstrokes explodes outward from their borders. One’s eye is constantly moving; it is not allowed to rest. It walks or rather runs across the surface, coming to an end point only to be redirected along another path. It recedes into a darkly murky green only to be pulled up by a sharp red. The whole envelops one in the process of marking out territories and searching direction. In a sense, one rediscovers the map and makes it over again by following the traces of action left on the canvas, and thus in the world.

Susan Heinemann