Eltham Library Community Gallery
Panther Place, Eltham Victoria 3095
Janet Boddy’s exhibition (1987 – present) affirms her as an artist of breadth of vision and mastery. Her paintings are surprising, catching the viewer between breaths. These created images draw into themselves everything that surrounds them, setting up a dialogue between image and imagination in the viewer, encouraging engagement with the unknown.
The body of the painter’s work has grown to an astonishing oeuvre encompassing an array of styles. The artist has painted large demanding canvasses and miniatures filled with whole-world-at-your-fingertips representations, subtle, minimalist Chinese character paintings and descriptive watercolours using Boddy’s word picture ‘poems’ and natural materials. Her montages defy size as definition. The unforgettable installations, some including her own body, tower over her match box creations. Masks beckon encouragement through hollow eyes surrounded by exotic and stylish beauty.
Anything and everything informs these works. The painter sees “every painting as a new challenge, there are “different problems to be solved” with each work and each is a new struggle. The paintings are abstract yet deeply representative to the onlooker, they are dense in the same way poems are, layered with ever more to discover behind and beyond. Yet, they are also simple and in a strange way harmonious.
Boddy’s colours are the colours of the rainbow, of the deep velvety night, of dunes and wetlands, colours sensuous and deceptively interlaced, powerful and unobtrusive. Her forms are movement, planes and waves and sprays, flights of birds, sailing of clouds, mottled stripes, vibrations, windows and mirrors.
The painter is a seer, “sensing with her body, eyes and ears” and “mirroring life as a result of that”. She is always conscious of the process of painting itself. She speaks of being “submissive to the canvass” and has sometimes likened her way of painting to a game of chess, putting a colour down and then searching for a response. Every painting becomes a passage, a demonstration of stops and starts, a struggle where ideas get abandoned, sketches painted out.
Her themes are the themes of transparency, of windows as spaces, as enclosures, as cosmic eye, and of waves. Boddy professes that “an artist must prophesy”, must search in oneself and in one’s environment, must align oneself with inventiveness and the stories birthed in the human psyche. Her time is “the here, the there and the constant one”. Her canvasses are two dimensional and at the same time representations of the ‘out there’. “Horizons pop unconsciously into my paintings”. Time becomes infinite, circular in these paintings.
This exhibition shows a painter evolved through and involved with the questions of our times of universal struggle, an explorer and an experimenter with the always new. Nordic Rainbow, an amalgam of the primitive and the refined boldly states for the few that, as Boddy says, “Art is always contradicting itself and that is what is so marvellous!” This is a marvellous exhibition with its stripes and mirrors, windows and waves, with nights and dreams, with introspective solitude and mystic worldliness, with mandalas, celebrations and journeys of the heart. In seeing these canvases our respect for the creator grows.
12 October, 1998