MOUNTAINVILLE, NY — Have you ever wanted to walk through a large shirt? Whether or not you’ve entertained the notion, it is now a real possibility at Storm King Art Center.
Josephine Halvorson and I met on a late winter day when the chill was starting to melt, and talked over omelettes at the window of the Red Cat in Chelsea. It was early on a weekday, the restaurant felt quietly elegant, the light outdoors mellowed by cloud cover. As Halvorson noted, even the potatoes in our omelettes were perfectly soft.
Josephine Halvorson transcribes the anonymous, weather-beaten traces left by those who might otherwise have left no other mark of their existence behind.
A studio visit prompted these thoughts about Josephine Halvorson’s paintings, which Nancy Princenthal has characterized as “resolutely airless and mute.”
Halvorson depicts close-up views of largely flat surfaces, often with a rectangle framed within the painting’s rectangle. In addition to conveying little depth, the surfaces usually contain a space we cannot see into, or they feature a closed door or doors. These tensions inflect our experience of the artist’s work, with its slow dance between the visible and the hidden, and between sight and touch. She seems to want the viewer to smell her objects as much as see them, to become familiar with the scarred and punctured surface (or skin) of their silent “faces.” For her, painting isn’t confined to sight. She lives in a world of things, not images – a three-dimensional realm far removed from the flattened realm of popular culture and the mass media.