Evelyn Statsinger

Jan Cicero Gallery

Evelyn Statsinger’s recent paintings are obsessions: images of great personal fantasy subjected to even greater pictorial manipulation. Nature percolates in and around her pictures, its substance rendered into painstaking and fastidiously described pattern. Statsinger’s motifs bear a kind of decorative magic, which is realized through a sinuous interlacing so constant and intense as to evoke memories of Celtic manuscripts. Line and contour drive these paintings assuredly to their conclusions, leaving subsidiary issues such as color and space in their wake.

Statsinger interprets nature as botany, and botany as biology. Sassacricket High, 1987, projects a sense of chlorophyll run amuck, an incessant fecundity that oozes and weaves its way across the canvas. The world here is simultaneously micro- and macrocosmic, with leaves and tendrils evoked and catalogued both as individual living things and as anonymous specimens of their kind. Statsinger’s art is sharply attuned to the chromosomal logic that abides within nature. Works such as Random Paths, 1989, seem to pulse and throb with primal forces. Life will out, often untidily and sometimes in chaos, but with an insistent will of its own.

Statsinger provides her mania for description with a mysterious subtext of wonder, eliciting a special providence in her renderings of the physiognomy of plants. Even when her agenda seems more circumspect, as in the quasi still life Gift of the Sea, 1987, a tight rein is kept on imagery that seems to court dissolution. Objects and organisms congregate here in uneasy symbiosis, radiating outward from the seashell Statsinger places at the picture’s center. Her palette of hot oranges, tans, and yellows, and several shades of green—repeated without variation in each of the eight paintings on display here—is a limited one and adds to the works’ oppressive sense of claustrophobia. Space becomes a crazy quilt assemblage, a kind of accreted patching of separate pictorial areas, each of differing scale and depth. But while one might expect an indistinct or scattered resolution in these overabundant paintings, the opposite is almost always true. Statsinger’s careful handling and orchestration of her data, as well as nature’s own abhorrence of a vacuum, keep her surfaces flowing smoothly and compulsively to their end in organic glut.

James Yood