July 14, 2011

Art Du Jour: Leslie Nolan

Displacement -
Leslie Nolan, 2011

Recently, I attended an opening for Art Deck-O at the Touchstone Gallery in Washington, DC.  While I enjoyed many of the works in the show, what literally stopped me in my tracks was a piece that wasn’t even part of the exhibit – Displacement, by the Virginia-based artist Leslie Nolan.

Nolan says her works “explore emotional themes through figures and landscapes to convey the energy and spirit of modern life.”

The dramatic contrast between Nolan’s use of vibrant colors and the pensive mood of her subjects is visually stunning, moving…and all too relatable emotionally.

Check out Nolan’s Web site to see more of her art.  It’s masterful work.

5 Questions With The Artist

What’s your comment on modern life, as conveyed through your paintings – good or bad?

Rather than "good or bad," I feel modern life is complex and difficult.  Sometimes the fast pace of life, competitive working environment, and worries over finances and personal relationships can be overwhelming.  I try to convey that complexity by infusing a feeling of aloneness, anxiety, and confusion in my new painting series called Dissed.  The idea is to interject emotion into the subjects' physical stance and facial expression, allowing the viewer to interpret the ambiguity.

There seems to be a sense of isolation and restlessness - particularly in the Dissed and What’s To Come? series - that practically jumps off the canvas.  Would that be a fair characterization?

Yes, your comment is right on target.  These paintings are all about feelings involved in trying to cope.  There are so many expectations and worries in modern life.

You’ve studied with a number of artists. Were there any who particularly influenced your work? If so, how?

Maryland artist "Skip" Lawrence influenced my work tremendously.  He encouraged me to make paintings that are both personal and about ideas.  In doing so, I've found that the passion I interject into paintings about my own life and feelings resonates strongly with viewers.  The worst thing that can be said of an artwork is that it's boring – I try to be completely unique and honest, and that tends to be the opposite of boring.

Have your travels abroad affected your work? Again, if so, how?

Travel and work have been critical to my development as an artist.  I spent years at CIA, the U.S. Information Agency, and State Department doing national security work – keeping secrets, living in and traversing dangerous locales.  The need to be secretive and surviving alien cultures has had a long-term personal impact.  Things are not always what they seem.  Ambiguity rules.  I think these emotions continue to permeate my artwork.

Who are your favorite artists, and are there any contemporaries you particularly admire?

Favorite artists – Richard Diebenkorn, Nathan Oliviera, Kathe Kollwitz, Amy Sillman.  Touchstone Gallery has a particularly talented, uniquely creative stable of contemporary artists and I am proud to exhibit my work alongside them.

No comments: