by Jim Dolan
Photographs by JR Compton
Attention, 36 x 60 inches - oil on canvas
by Jeane McIntosh is
at 2520 Gallery,
2520 Fairmount, February 21 through March
IN NIGHTVISION, her
show at 2520 Fairmount, painter and printmaker
Jeanne McIntosh gives us her record of a lengthy dialogue
with Chaos and the Void. Several pieces present the personal Void
as it fills with images of the Divine.
The other, and less prevalent vision in her work,
gives us the Void within which we stand, and is presented as Emptiness.
Yet again, in a set of prints, she also offers defenses against the
Void / Chaos / Emptiness.
Of course, the Void is never nothing. There is always
something within the Void, as it is the yawning emptiness out of
which all appears. As Lao-Tse says:
The Tao is an empty vessel;
it is used, but never filled
Oh! unfathomable source
of ten thousand things!
And, Chaos is not disorder, but is rather the profusion
of imagery, idea, fantasy, emotion, dream, and coming into being
that has also been called the 'collective unconscious.'
McIntosh has studied at Brookhaven
for 8 years. Her influential instructors have been Marla Ziegler,
Chung Chu, Don Taylor and David Newman.
She has travelled to Venice and studied painting and printmaking
with the Pratt Institute of Art from Brooklyn New York. While in
Italy, she went to Padua to see Giotto's chapel, and was heavily
influenced by his use of strong color.
In these oils, Ms. McIntosh has chosen
to work intuitively, waiting to fill the canvases as the images present
themselves. She says she is never going after an image, or working
from an idea.
SAY HER CANVASES ARE A FORM OF AUTOMATIC WRITING in the
hyperlinked and oneiric way the images layer and relate to one
another, pointing at once to the personal and domestic, while
at the same time gesturing outward to the unknown and the mystical.
When questioned about a piece that
has a number of eyes within it, she says, "Well, I was having
a lot of trouble with my eyes...." In the same way, she last
year entered a canvas into a show that depicted a pair of suffering
Her remarks on it? "Well, I was
having a lot of trouble with my feet." This clear, simple
mindset allows her to make herself as free of conscious intention
In taking this approach, Jeanne is
offering herself up to the Void and the ten thousand things, (...it
is used, but never filled...) making herself available as medium
for what wants to appear. As she sets up her canvas, she drops
a hook into the sea of being, waiting for something to grab hold.
In so doing, she places herself within
the tradition of Max Ernst, Joan Miro, Magritte, et al. However,
her technique remains rough and immediate, her paint does not disappear
into the canvas. There is obviously a human being laboring on the
end of the brush.
the one piece in the show depicting Void as empty. Against a blue/black/turquoise
background, and huddled in the lowest section of the canvas, are
two figures with hands folded in attitudes of prayer, their mouths
open in shock, or horror, or disbelief, or simply in their everyday
In the lowest right hand corner, a
figure McIntosh identifies as God is standing an a platform, shouting
into a megaphone. He is ignored. In the lower left, a ladder reaches
up to the uppermost regions of the canvas. In between the ladder
and the two people, there is what appears to be a television.
ALLEGORY DEVELOPS as we allow the image to begin to tell
of the emptiness of everyday life, which we attempt to fill with
devices, all the while 'God' is shouting at us to look up, to
look into the "unfathomable source of ten thousand things".
Hence, I would imagine, the title, Attention.
The painting succeeds in its composition
at conveying the sense of individuals surrounded by a meaningful
emptiness which is ignored, and which could itself be interpreted
as 'God'. Probably eighty percent of the available space is a featureless
field of blue/black. By using only the most minimal number of figures,
Jeanne strengthens the painting's theme of a vast, mysterious emptiness
filled with divine emanations. I consider this to be one of the
strongest pieces in the show.
36 x 60 inches - oil on canvas
the image welter of Chaos. There are boxes, chambers, and mechanisms.
The colors are brilliant and primary, a seemingly intentional use
of the child's pallette to accentuate the speed and lack of forethought
going into the creation of the piece, as if the images were arriving
almost faster than the artist could work.
Oddly, the canvas seems to be a two
dimensional screen upon which images are displayed, but the artist
says her one brief for the piece was to create a sense of depth
and perspective. In this, however, she does not succeed.
THIS MEAN THE PAINTING HAS FAILED? No, not at all. It
only means that the momentum of the image making has taken over,
and made the canvas its own. As she continues to grow and gain
confidence in her creative process, McIntosh will learn to balance
the imperatives of technique with the creative flow.
Among the scatter-gunning of images,
there is the appearance of no fewer than ten staring, single eyes
(well, I was having trouble with my eyes...)
This is telling. Had she used pairs
of eyes, Jeanne would have been depicting the organic, human eye.
In using the single eye, again in an entirely unconscious way,
she has shown the all seeing eye of God, the relentless eye of
paranoia, the eye of inner awareness, or more accurately, the Gnostic
eye. If you look on the back of your dollar bills, you will see
this same eye depicted above the pyramid, with rays of omniscience
emanating from it.
Again, Jeanne is depicting the presence
of the Creator in her creation, her dialog with growing inner awareness,
and with the need to respond when he/she/it presents itself. For
the Gnostics, when we fully develop our divine inner awareness,
then we develop the eye of God, and are able to see our relation
to God as being one in the same. In effect, the Gnostics see each
person as a 'flame of God', or a 'divine spark', the originators
of our own universes.
McIntosh - Dream
48 X 48 inches - oil on canvas
A figure with hands folded in prayer
is alone in the dream void. There is a dark space behind her head.
Floating in the dimensionless space of the unconscious are a pistol
(...I was angry...), a horse, and more gnostic eyes, calling to
mind the watery, oneiric depths of Joan Miro.
There are five angels on this canvas,
making it an aperture through which step the messengers of the
Divine. The image is also replete with an ambiguous form which
McIntosh refers to as a 'cornucopia' ... it is seen here as a mysterious
snail-like entity traversing the canvas like one of van Leewenhook's
'beasties' first sighted under his primitive microscope. And, like
the Dutchmen, we are peering for the first time into a world that
exists under our noses, lacking only the instruments for seeing.
ALSO APPEARS in this image, again as the little man on
the platform, shouting into his megaphone. Jeanne is asking us
to look with her through the lens she provides with her canvas
into the teeming world that exists just beyond the tangible.
McIntosh - Capricious
36 x 36 inches - oil on canvas
At first look, you see a surface riotous
with flowers in colors van Gogh might have chosen — brilliant
yellows, reds, oranges, intense blues. As in the other pieces,
they float in the familiar blue/black space. A cityscape appears
near the lower center border; at the lower left are empty chairs,
an angel is in the upper central field. In the geographic center
is 'image box' — a TV, computer monitor, movie screen?
McIntosh says angels began to appear
in her work after her husband's near tragic bicycle accident and
recovery last year. She admits that her effort in this piece was
to 'paint flowers '... what she has accomplished is a juxtaposition
of the natural and supernatural world with that of the media and
the built environment.
This is not a new theme in the history
of Twentieth and now Twenty-first Century art, but Jeanne is unafraid
to continue to explore the ways the infinite continues to break
into the finite, seemingly unnoticed by our service to the media
god we have built.
McIntosh - Circus
5 x 5 inches - monoprint
First in a mounting of four, four-color
monoprints, Circus presents
the same basic image in a series of four interations, each colored
differently. A Chaotic field or depth containing no recognizable
forms is over laid with a semi-random black cross-hatching.
These prints are the only images in
the show in which defensiveness or resistance is displayed. It
is as if we are looking through a small window the artist has created
for us in the print, and beyond the protective cross hatching we
see what is going on 'in there' or perhaps 'out there.'
OR MENACING is what she has seen that she has provided
a protective screen for us in the crosshatching on the surface
of every print.
Ms. McIntosh has
simply and honestly portrayed the way the sacred appears
in her life and art. She has shown how she diverts the flow of
the collective unconscious onto her canvases, and by working
without preconceptions, she has laid bare the world as a place
where the Divine is constantly among us, and always overlooked.
Dolan's DallasArtsRevue membership page for
more information by and about him, and illustrations
by his daughter.
of Stories by Jim Dolan.