The Artist Purges Her Wound

I just got back from 10 days in Europe where I was immersed in the work of French American Artist, Niki de Saint Phalle. A friend of mine works for her foundation and among other things we went to the opening of a museum retrospective of her work at the Grand Palais in Paris and then her Tarot Sculpture Garden in Tuscany.

Les Trois Grâces, 1994

Niki de Saint Phalle – Les Trois Grâces, 1994

I can honestly say I am inspired by her. Not so much by the late work that made her famous (above), but more so by her early work and the process of her life, the progression of her art and the sacrifices she made. Her work crosses the trajectory from the purging of the darkness of early wounds to the reaching for something universal and joyful in her well known “Nana” sculptures.

dscf1374-la-femme-mariee

Early Bride Sculpture – Niki De Saint Phalle – La Femme Mariee

This photo of one of her brides is hard to appreciate if you don’t see it in person. It’s a collage of plastic spiders and babies and other disturbing things. A dark commentary on the limitations imposed on women when forced to uptake the role of wife and mother by conditioning rather than choice.

She was molested by her father as a child and much of her early work is purging the anger and sadness and sense of betrayal this caused her as well as divesting herself of society’s expectations of her as a woman to be a wife and mother. Some of her earliest work, the Shooting Paintings, express outrage against injustice of all sorts especially against the innocent.

Niki-de-Saint-Phalle_fusil

Niki-de-Saint-Phalle_fusil

niki-de-saint-phalle-1961-links-saint-sebastien-or-portrait-of-my-lover-rechts-videostill-daddy-b

niki-de-saint-phalle-1961-links-saint-sebastien-or-portrait-of-my-lover-rechts-videostill-daddy-b

Why am I so taken with this woman’s story? It is the parallels that validate my own path as an artist that make is so powerful for me. I too have seen my work move from the dark, violent and personal to something purer, simpler and more universal or illuminated.

Jill Joy - Love and Betrayal - mixed media on canvas - 48x72" 2007

Jill Joy – Love and Betrayal – mixed media on canvas – 48×72″ – 2007

 I too have struck on simpler, purified work that seems to have more commercial viability.

Jill Joy - Gathering Storm - oil on canvas - 48x72 -2014

Jill Joy – Gathering Storm – oil on canvas – 48×72 – 2014

I too knew and released the confines of traditional marriage and family. I too have had an on again, off again lover and muse who I simply can not shake despite the best efforts and advice of my friends and therapist. I too have sacrificed my health and wealth to create art.

But perhaps more than all of that was my appreciation for her early work and how it caused me to appreciate mine. What I saw in the retrospective at Le Grand Palais was not only the accomplishment and appeal of the later work, but how much the humanity and the personal struggle of Niki’s early work spoke to me. It was like watching the progression from the human to the divine condition. It was the human condition that spoke to me, stayed with me, haunted me. And it seemed much of that early work is still in the possession of her foundation. Niki, perhaps more than I up to this point, understood its value and spent the money and effort to warehouse it, never discarding or destroying it.

Niki de Saint Phalle

Niki de Saint Phalle

Meanwhile I have been balking at storing my early work because it’s too confusing to market to art industry people as I try to make a name and a living for myself. It has felt like a weight on me, a burden, not just because of the physical space it takes up but because it represents old, now dead, released painful emotional experience. Stacks and stacks of canvases that chronicle my personal pain and grief as I released my marriage, my emotionally abusive relationships with my parents and of course my on again off again relationship which triggers all of that old stuff every time it ends.

Learning about Niki and her work made me appreciate myself. She validated my struggles as an artist and confirmed the courage it takes to give everything else up. She caused me to appreciate the journey from personal pain to universal illumination. Even at the end the beginning is present. We hold its hand as we walk into the light.

Jill Joy - Selfie at Niki de Saint Phalle's Tarot Garden in Tuscany

Jill Joy – Selfie at Niki de Saint Phalle’s Tarot Garden in Tuscany

Hot Off The Brush #art #sandiego

New work…transforming anger to Compassion…working thru my ‘stuff’ creating beauty in the process.

Jill Joy - Thought Forms compassion - oil on canvas - 20x60" - 2014

Jill Joy – Thought Forms compassion – oil on canvas – 20×60″ – 2014

She’s Come Undone #art #culture #sandiego

Here’s a new painting from my Energy Series.

Jill Joy - She's Come Undone - oil on canvas - 60x72" - 2013 - Available

Jill Joy – She’s Come Undone – oil on canvas – 60×72″ – 2013 – Available

I struggle to market these works…they are so different from my other series, Consciousness. It’s like I’m a bi-polar artist. But when someone is drawn to an energy painting, and better yet purchases it (so I can keep going!) it’s a profound and intimate experience.

Recently I’ve been putting together a small catalog of these works and I wrote this short poem to express the process of creation of these emotion based “energy” paintings. I’d like to know your thoughts.

ALCHEMY
joy, sorrow, awe, anger, longing

I become emotion
it pours through my body
onto canvas

I transform.
I evolve.

to Love

The canvas remains.
A static image of energy

of Life

Finishing touches #art #culture #sandiego

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My assistant Maggie and I put some finishing touches on my studio today preparation for tomorrow’s grand opening.

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Feels like it’s taken me a long time to be able to display my work the way I want in a beautiful well lit space. Its been a long road and I am so thrilled to be here finally!

It’s a Party & You’re Invited! #art #sandiego #culture

Studio Grand Opening – Sat, June 21, 6 – 8 pm

710 13th Street @ G Street, Suite 201, San Diego 92101

Hi Fellow Bloggers and Followers, If you find yourself in or near San Diego next weekend, you are invited to celebrate the grand opening of my new studio. On view: recent paintings from The Consciousness Series.

Jill Joy - Art Lofts Studio - w Rain1,100 sq ft studio located on the 2nd floor of the Art Center Lofts building above the New School for Architecture. Featuring the acoustic music of Crumb Dread. Art, food, drink, music…What could be better?!

Please RSVP to jill@jilljoy.com and feel free to bring guests.

Love

Love (human love as opposed to Divine Love) is a crazy, messy thing. I began this painting in New York around 2002 and finished it a couple of years later in 2005 shortly after re-locating to San Diego after my husband and I separated.

Jill Joy - LOVE - oil on canvas - 72x48 - 2005 - Available

Jill Joy – LOVE – oil on canvas – 72×48 – 2005 – Available

My experience of Love, true and lasting Love, is that it’s a journey. This was true of my relationship with my former husband (now friend) and has also been true of my current love which was has been an evolving process for 8 years.

I believe to truly love there has to be a purification of the ego (at least in my case there was). First I needed to really learn to love myself and meet most of my own needs and then I really needed to learn that I have to let people be who they are – it’s the greatest gift of love – acceptance.

This painting is from a series entitled Love and Other Words, a small group of large paintings I completed in 2005 and 2006 that explore the idea of love and incorporate words or poetry. It is thickly painted in oil and highly textured. The word “Love” is built up in relief on the canvas. Painted on primed canvas and stretched on hand built 2” stretchers, signed lower right.