New York

Yvonne Jacquette

Brooke Alexander

Van Gogh painted his own copy of Sudden Shower at Ohashi by the Japanese painter Hiroshige. Both painters used landscape as the ground for perception’s incomplete representation floating on paper’s or canvas’ perfect blank, as does Yvonne Jacquette. Jacquette copies from her own work, painting and drawing multiple versions, and often making monoprints from originals. Some pieces are oils on canvas, others are oil, pastel, gouache, or watercolor applied to glass or paper and transferred onto fine paper.

Jacquette takes her views as much from city as from country. Out of earlier, almost Photo-Realist cityscapes such as the upward tilting 22nd Street, she began breaking up surface into pointillist dots. Gradually the picture plane began to level off, and in these recent pieces the view inclines downward, onto New York from the World Trade Center, or upon Maine from a single-engine plane.

Precision of frame is retained. In Stereopair—Crossroads two oil paintings show two views, about 30 degrees apart, of a country crossroads cutting farmland and trees into quadrants. Matter-of-factly the righthand picture is four inches wider than the left and takes in the site from a slightly different angle. But details of trees and fields are tied in with a tension between the palette and the eyes’ interpretation, rather than to a smooth homogeneous surface.

Again, the finger of water in Lawry Pond Basin is set in a balance with land and air. But Jacquette moves the surface’s currents through trees, shingles on an isolated farmhouse, cultivated plots of land, the haze of distant air and receding hills. Each tree balances colors keyed to blue, green, yellow, and occasionally brown. It is as if all the components of a photograph had been taken apart, thought about and assimilated, and finally rendered according to the ideas and means at hand of the mind’s eye. Because Maine photo services take two weeks to develop slides, Jacquette’s studies are in fact begun from memory alone; the slides, once they arrive, serve as marker rather than checklist.

Air Quality Acceptable—East River View looks over a row of Manhattan skyscrapers to the detailed buildings and equally detailed haze of Brooklyn. Atmosphere obscuring vision is as finely varied as the weight of waterways, traffic conduits, and industrial buildings—all meander with the purposiveness of living tissue. Out to the thin line of buildings miles away on the horizon objects are linked not so much by mechanical spatial ties or gradations of color as through the mind’s interpretation. The results wind up looking precisely like Brooklyn.

That’s where the paper or canvas comes in. Because Jacquette does not draw attention to some receding point of perspective, the eye seems to float on the paint which floats on space. In Passagassawakeag I the river flows down to the bottom of the canvas. But this massive movement of paint, its flecks pointing this way and that, is not subject to any particular logic of river currents and eddies or to given philosophies of painting. It stays close to contemplation.

Barbara Baracks