Friday, January 4, 2013



Valerie Jaudon, Archive
2012, oil on canvas
54 x 72 in
Valerie Jaudon is a veteran investigator of abstraction’s potential, producing pristine, precisely conceived schemes, which she has varied, often just slightly, for each new body of work. Her concentration is formidable and her mental conceptions assume explicit physical form in her canvases and works on paper. Each work is a system unto itself.

In this strikingly concise show of ten large paintings, each image had the quality of a maze, a puzzle, or a Byzantine wall carving. In works like Glyph (2012), composed of nine squares—each linked by a band extending improbably from an adjacent square—we have the sense of chapters in a book, one developing from the last, but in no real order. It conjures those “experimental” novels of the 1960s with interchangeable chapters, in which the reader determines the sequence. But where to begin? The sense of an undefined plan is compounded by a tension between figure and ground that doubly confounds certainty.

Rather than remotely referencing nature or the figure, these works seem to invoke writing, if not language. Call it a pattern of nonverbal communication. We are led through curves and bends and intersecting lines— all mimicking the flow of writing, of speaking, of thinking. The line leads but does not terminate. Often it runs to the edge of a canvas, implying infinite progression and a story without end.

These paintings were striking and graphic, with white paint on raw tan linen, as in the 42- inch-square Essay (2012), or black on white canvas, as in the 54-by-72-inch Archive (2012), or white on black, as in the 54-inch-square Glyph. And they are highly refined and elegant. We follow the rhythm of their execution, the repetitions, and the apparently circular arguments. These works, like maps, like library systems, like charts, suggest that there is a key to understanding, but they also yield the thrill of being forever enigmatic and inconclusive.

— Barbara A. MacAdam

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