Shirley Jaffe Estate: Seeing

19 January - 2 March 2013 Cloître Saint-Merri I & II - Paris

Galerie Nathalie Obadia is very pleased to present Seeing, Shirley Jaffe's fourth exhibition in its Paris gallery. Her three previous exhibitions took place in 1999, 2001 and 2008.

Through a new set of 6 paintings made in 2012, the artist proposes the most accomplished evolution of a coherent plastic research she has been conducting for nearly 50 years. As early as 1963-1964, Shirley Jaffe developed a visual language inspired by her immediate urban environment, made up of a vocabulary of shapes and colors that she has continued to enrich and develop in her work ever since.

With the idea of movement as a starting point for her paintings, Shirley Jaffe assembles the signs in the frame of the canvas, tempering the individual impulses by adjusting her palette to achieve the collective balance of her composition, both formal and mental and sensitive. Without loading material so as not to obscure the message addressed to the viewer, Shirley Jaffe's works are states of affairs, freeze-frames that immortalize the fleeting, frantic race of the city's heterogeneous forms, isolating them in order to fit them precisely on the canvas.

By controlling the relationships of forces acting between the lines, the flat areas and their borders, the artist harmoniously constructs an image that circumscribes a dynamic within its frame to better send the viewer back to his own mechanism of internal possibilities.
In fact, without losing the visual seduction of bold color combinations and the familiarity of the signs, the solidity of the composition allows the painting to stand in front of him in a frontal and autonomous way. Transgressing the foundations of verticality and horizontality, Shirley Jaffe manages to find the ideal arrangement of motifs - whose play is never decorative - to produce an intrinsic unity.

The deployment of forms signals a movement, each movement has its "break" whose position the artist defines in advance, the movement is diffracted by a system of addition, subtraction, dispersion, association, separation, contraction or extension - exchanges, of the masses, the white is the binder of the only existing plan and not a bottom, the palette privileges a dull tonality, the eye should not stabilize on a part but embrace the whole - the artist thus opts for a simultaneity of the volumes, which must not be figuratively identifiable: as many formal choices that Shirley Jaffe defines to put order in the apparent disorder - a decoy - of her montages.
The interactions that develop according to their own laws between these measured and rational structures are the product of simple operations that give the painting all its dramatic intensity, with relevance and vitality.

Invoking by its title a careful look, Seeing invites the viewer to observe that a greater amplitude now separates the signs on the surface of the canvas, in view of a clarification of the colored system. The internal clockwork becomes more complex, the tension between the forms increases and the loss of reference points is confirmed without the paintings presented ceasing to find their balance in this imbalance. The language of Shirley Jaffe's architectures is truly the expression of a common visual memory.