If what researchers tell us is true and we instinctually find symmetry beautiful, then why is it that the small imperfections on a lover's face are the things we grow to love the most? Is it this experience that leads artists like Danielle Mysliwiec to suggest that there is falsehood or dishonesty in perfect symmetry? Certainly, the predictability of a Victor Vasarely painting demonstrates how limiting perfect patterns can be as his works are like cheap chewing gum; explosive flavor that lasts all of two seconds. It is not surprising then that disruptions in any pattern are the most attention grabbing, which is also why it takes a lot of skill to make these elements work without destroying the elegance of the surface.
Mysliwiec, whose paintings are literally woven paint, takes on a great deal of risk in creating these works because there is a good chance that the paintings won't hold together as she dismantles parts of weave. Take for example, the 2004 painting Loosening the Warp, which teases apart a system of patterning just enough to allow for dissonance while maintaining the basic structural integrity of the piece. The work draws from the slightly out of vogue abstract expressionist movement of the 50's, which surprisingly works in its favor because it is an unexpected reference within the emerging artist scene. In addition to this, the painting is mounted on Dibond, which floats about 2 inches off the wall, and creates a crisp edge in opposition to the undulating and amorphous forms within that space.
In 2006, Mysliwiec retired the Dibond surface, opting instead for the board supports. Now, a painter's choice of support may not sound like the most fascinating subject matter in the world, but seeing as how it's the thing you put all your paint on, not addressing the matter would be the equivalent of an architect deciding the foundation of building was secondary to a curtain wall. The shape and size of the support, is in fact a pivotal point of the painting, and Fortress, demonstrates this, as it utilizes the mid sized support made of board, which gives this body of work a greater weight while working within the most challenging dimensions for a painter.*
What is important to know about these paintings, is that although in jpeg form they look like fabric, the paint itself is woven, and rests upon a surface of white paint that appears to be at least in part applied with a palette knife. The painting is some connection to the aesthetics of Paul-Emile Borduas, in its use of color and texture, though there is less concern with creation of space in these works. Mysliwiec's art has greater ties, to a mix of painters like Agnes Martin, and Robert Ryman who don't quite fit perfectly into the minimalist movement, and artists known for their work with weaving and/or fabrics such as Annie Albers, Sheila Hicks, and Lenore Tawney.
In addition to the various historical connections that help situate the work, it is also interesting to note that the entomology of textile is a literal a representation of the weave the artist creates. Teks, the indo European root to the word, in some dialects means, “to fabricate”, and referred to the practice of weaving roots to build the walls of early shelters. Obviously, I'm not suggesting that Mysliwiec's paintings are actually studies for new homes, but there is an element of construction to these works that addresses some of the concerns of a sculptor. Corrupted Drive and Fortress, provide excellent examples of this, as the paint on both works literally becomes a malleable material.
In the case of Corrupted Drive, the reproduction tends to make this material resemble the future fabric of The Matrix, which aside from the slightly cheesy connotations wouldn't bother me were it not for the fact that it isn't an accurate representation of how the palette functions. What is lost and unfortunately, is impossible to pick up without actually viewing the work, is that there is a softness to the palette that is almost velour-like in nature. The paint in Fortress, by contrast, has a cold sheen that glistens slightly in direct sunlight. What will be interesting to see in the future is how the new works play off each other. After all, one piece is not made independent of another; rather each chronicles the development and thought process of the artist.
*The midsized painting relies entirely on paint, surface and composition, where as small canvases are labeled “jewel-like” or “precious”, and large sized works are titled “grandiose” and “awe inspiring”.