Mediated/Meditated Paint: Pauletta Chanco’s “The Sacred in Profane”
Ohhhmmm. The verbal mantra of OM, spoken softly and repeatedly generates a sonic frequency to induce a state of disengagement with the material world while simultaneously engaging with the self. Used in the practice of meditation, OM, is believed to be the sound of creation in Vedic religions. This frequency is often used during chanting and meditative prayer to bring the spirit back to its point of creation. Seemingly a passive practice, meditation is an active engagement with the spirit, emotions, and thoughts. The practice of meditation is a realignment of priorities, priviledging the spirit and redefining its relationship to the material.
Pauletta M. Chanco’s paintings from the series “The Sacred in Profane” is a visual synonym of OM. Like OM, Chanco’s paintings vibrate at a frequency that calms and agitates. Chanco presents the pictorial plane with subtle strokes of blended paint punctuated with the ease of mark making. Fields of color look elegantly subdued but in actuality is achieved by layering multiple active and gestural painting strokes, not perspectively but physically building up of the surface one layer at a time. As the practice of meditation uplifts the self to different levels of spiritual awareness, looking at Chanco’s paintings takes the viewer to varying depths into the pictorial plane.
Chanco’s painting “Deep Concentration” (oil on canvas, 2006) is a mesmerizing field of red with spherical forms vacillating from the background to the foreground. Achieved through several watery layers of paint, the images refers to rocks covered and distorted by the gentle refraction of a moving river. This motif is repeated in this series but handled and executed uniquely. Another piece, “Seeking Refuge” (oil on canvas, 2006) anchors the eye to the bottom half of the painting. The thin layers of paint create a deep ethereal space surrounding the circular mass at the bottom edge. This same technique to create lightness also brings volume and mass, transforming the circle into a three dimensional sphere. The dimensional aspects of the painting is enhanced by how the light reaches each strata of paint at varying intensity where some spaces are illuminated while others are shadowed.
The pictorial plane in “Clearing the Shadows for Insight” (oil and mixed media on canvas, 2007) not only presents the same technique of layered paint, but also visually represents it through four tiers of color fields. The top tier is a murky mix of browns, greens, blues, and reds creating a stable, restful area. A sketchy band of blue juxtaposed beneath this tier is an imagined river where pigments swirl and pool creating an active textural surface. A red mass striated with facture sits centered on the picture plane. The warmth of this color and the motion of the brushstrokes command attention and bring the viewer’s gaze directly to the objects painted on the top surface. Blue outlines of circular objects once again appear in this work. The same reference to river rocks is graphically represented yet maintains its abstraction. The bottom tier of the painting is much lighter in weight than the top tier; the murkiness gives way to lightness.
In “Clarity of Awakening” (oil and mixed media on canvas, 2006-07), Chanco’s influences appear like spectres in the shadows. Mark Rothko’s handling of paint is quoted several times throughout the pictorial plane achieving an overall sense of ethereal space. Her use of line is reminiscent of Elmer Bischoff’s drawings, adding a strong presence of the artist’s hand. Chanco’s technique developed through the internalization of these influences and years of practice refined it to arrive at her distinct painterly style. “Clarity of Awakening” is a successful masterpiece that engulfs the viewer by its scale (72”X64”) without being overwhelmed. Signature elements of Chanco’s practice are evident in this piece. The layering of the surface is even more evident as objects buried deep below are pushing through to the surface. Sketchy, quick, and light strokes of color blended through layering of media provides a delightful background. The pleasing lines of abstracted spheres act as pathways for the eye, leading it to meander throughout the pictorial plane.
With focused vision and confident intention, Pauletta M. Chanco uses meditation as means of arriving at meaning, and her mediation of paint expresses this meaning. Each pictorial plane that Chanco paints is like a deep cleansing breath that reminds the viewers to slow down and contemplate, whether it is the formal qualities of everyday objects or simply to contemplate our own spiritual journey. Ohhhmmm.
To purchase Pauletta Chanco’s catalog, please visit the link below.