Soul Lands Reviewed by Ted Hickey
Scottish art in the twentieth century - from the Glasgow Boys through the
Colourists to the Edinburgh School - was dominated by the influence of French
Impressionism and Post-Impressionism and a kind of hedonistic painterliness,
the predominance of landscape and still-life as subject matter, and an uninhibited
approach to the expressive possibilities of watercolour.
'How each part can be infinitely great and infinitely small,
I remember my first sighting of Janet's work in her house near Enniskillen
about fifteen years ago, and, in particular, one landscape painting reminiscent
of the work of Helen Frankenthaler - suave in form, intensely staining unprimed
canvas a deep red. I was struck at the time at the sheer confidence and panache
she showed working on such a large scale. She had, indeed, spent a four-year period
in the United States by then, and found the discovery of artists like Frankenthaler
and Georgia O'Keeffe and Colour Field painting deeply liberating and inspirational.
Paul Dirac, the English theoretical physicist, once wrote, 'It is more important
to have beauty in one's equations than to have them fit experiment'. Plerce's large
and ambitious new canvases are similarly driven by an aesthetic imperative rather
than an ideological one - works that contain, express and resolve turmoil.
The watery landscapes of Fermanagh, too, have indubitably left their mark on
her sensibility - lake, earth and sky gradually merging, the blurring of edges
and elements. Indeed, her paintings are probably better described as elemental'
rather than 'landscape', a kind of geology of passion.
Hugh MacDiarmid has written of the Scottish painter of an earlier generation,
William Johnstone, words which could also apply to the work of Janet Pierce'.
How the utmost extension is but a point, and how
Light, harmony, movement, power
All identical, all separate, and all united are life.'
Ted Hickey 1995 ©