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Joanne Freeman's work in progress at Gallery Ehva in Provincetown
When I was in Provincetown last week I stopped in at Gallery Ehva on Shank Painter Road, where Joanne Freeman was in the middle of a residency. The image above is what I saw when I walked in: A work in progress with many sheets of calligraphic shapes on the floor. The sheets were painted in an ultramarine-ish gouache with a flat brush so that the thickness of the line never wavered. The color was unremarkable, dry and uninflected.
From that scatter of sheets, Freeman would select one and begin to modulate the color. As she dampened the line, then blotted and wiped, gorgeous things started to happen: The ultramarine became richly transparent. It had depth. There were undertones of cobalt. Turquoise emerged. The work was far enough along that the chromatic difference between the sheets on the floor and those on the wall was quite apparent.
One of the sheets Freeman was working on
Freeman talking about the project (note the paper towel under the table; she did a lot of blotting). Sketches for the work were made in Otranto, Italy, during an earlier residency, she said
Above: The work in progress. What you can't tell from the photograph is that the wall-mounted sheets are collaged so that the calligraphic line is edited and redirected
Below: Calligraphic sheets spread out on the floor
The finished work: Otranto, 2012, gouache and collage on paper, 82 x 118 inches; image courtesy of the artist
Seeing the work in progress--and then a few days later, an emailed image of the finished work--I was struck by the cursive and chromatic symmetry between it and the blue tile niche wall in the newly renovated Middle Eastern wing at The Met, which I'd photographed the previous week. All of the blue tiles and vessels resonated with that symmetry.
"Not a coincidence," says Freeman. "I really like arabic calligraphy. I've spent a lot of time in Morocco."
But a lovely serendipity.
A few views of the newly renovated Middle Eastern wing, officially called Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia and Later South Asia. Link here
I especially love the cobalt and turquoise ceramics