Genn’s studio philosophy revolves around the primacy of color, shape, and materiality. Her abstract language is geometric and austere but defined by human touch. Through carefully modulated omission and emphasis, the artist highlights the singularity of each image to create a heightened perceptual experience. Each painting speaks on its own terms but there is also a certain visual magic that emerges from the conversations among paintings. “How to Build a Sky” features an extreme horizontal painting format and tiered, all-encompassing installation. As viewers, become aware of the spaces between each piece, our eyes moving along the lines within the painted image to the edges of the maple frames, to the architecture of the gallery, and back again. In the artist’s view, the vital spaces between things are what allow us to understand them. The power of Genn’s work lies both in its focused formal reductivism as well as the associative threads that arise from seeing the multiple works in dialogue.
For Genn, the act of painting makes meaning of our world. It reflects our own desires to define our place within our environment, natural or built. “Organizing color is perhaps an effort to stabilize a mutable force; to play at ordering nature while embracing its mysteries,” the artist writes. In the late 50s, jazz bassist and composer Charles Mingus would socialize with Allen Ginsberg and others at Peggy Hitchcock’s country house in upstate New York. The house had a skylight that Peggy wanted to replace with blue aircraft shield plastic to create an ersatz permanent blue sky. Though she never secured a building permit, Mingus wrote her something of a consolation song called, “Peggy’s Blue Skylight.” This humorous scenario underscores how as human beings we often seek to shape our surroundings in order to capture a feeling or fleeting experience, or attempt to simulate the beauty we encounter in nature. Painting too has the capacity to do this. In the four works that comprise “How to Build a Sky”, Sara Genn plays with and expounds upon this notion, inviting us into heightened perceptual experience an acute awareness of time.
Sara Genn is a Canadian-born artist based in Palm Springs, California. She graduated with a BFA from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario in 1994. Recent solo exhibitions include Morgan Lehman Gallery (New York, NY); Gallery Jones (Vancouver, BC); and Dimmitt Contemporary (Houston, TX); Genn’s work has been discussed in publications such as the New York Times, House Beautiful, Create!, House and Home, NYLON Japan, Town and Country, W, Domino, American Art Collector, New York Magazine, LONY, and Tatler, as well as in the Rizzoli publication, New York Parties: Private Views. Genn’s paintings are included in the public collections of the Palm Springs Art Museum (Palm Springs, CA) and New York Presbyterian Hospital (New York, NY).