Alyse Rosner: Regeneration
In the back corner of Alyse Rosner’s studio, a pile of sycamore leaves rest on top of a gray flat file. The raised veins inside each arm of these massive leaves—the biggest of any native tree in North America—connect at one central point at their base. Stacked and dried as a group inside Rosner’s studio, these remnants of her process have curled upward forming an olive and brown saucer with many papery layers. Rosner scavenges her front yard in Westport, Connecticut for these leaves—most plentiful in late summer and early autumn. When her collection has been amassed and new paintings are waiting to be started, Rosner spends a full day, sometimes longer, making graphite rubbings onto raw canvas. She also carefully transfers other naturally occurring surfaces such as the top of roughly-hewn stump only steps from the back door to her studio. From these textures, Rosner builds her luminous paintings, working in a steady, additive process.
These shimmery graphite markings have formed the underpinnings of Rosner’s paintings for over a decade. Around 2006, Rosner intuitively made a rubbing of one of her highly textured miniature paintings on raw pine. Later, she used this facsimile as the springboard for another work. Rosner’s current palette of frottaged textures—sycamore leaves, the tree stump, and the grain from the wooden planks on her deck—each, in their unique way, reference a parallel notion of regeneration. The leaves return, the stump eventually sinks into its soil, and the felled tree is planed for reuse.
Likewise, Rosner’s paintings elicit the sensation of revival. While her materials are those closest to her home coupled with the most accessible ones for artists—paint, canvas, and graphite—Rosner’s fulsome process springs from a restricted and personal artistic vocabulary of rubbings, stains, lines, dashes, shapes, and formerly, sprays of minuscule dots. Rosner repetitively layers these different marks until they have crystallized into references beyond themselves, more often abstract and poetic than concrete and literal.
Her paintings evoke a feeling of lightness—both the quality of being nimble and the state of illumination. Employing hues on the opposing side of the artist’s twelve-step color wheel such as orange and blue or violet and yellow, Rosner draws attention to the spectrum of light as it zips across color. Polarity creates space within the paintings. Diaphanous webs of lines hover above the murky pools of the pigment-soaked canvas. Vertical drips streaking the canvas simultaneously emphasize the pull of gravity and the fluidity of Rosner’s paint. The locus of multi-directional lines recall the woven surfaces of textiles, particularly those set aloft such as the sails of a ship.
Though Rosner’s linear networks never fully encompass her compositions, they nonetheless convey the phenomenon of interconnectivity, the overwhelming yet necessary quality needed to meet the contemporary pace of our lives. All aspects of her paintings appear to be in constant communication with one another. A series of Phthalo green slashes of paint balance the loose, wide waves of watery crimson. A purple zigzag hinges on top of a lemony backdrop. As Rosner works, each new step responds to her previous move. This contrapposto process always originates with a spark—some former trace of itself—never from nothing.