Julia Hensley gives us a clue

by DRM

Upper West Side by Julia Hensley. Acrylic on Bristol Board; 12" x 8"; 2003

The clues are everywhere, but it isn’t until you see the title that the entire meaning becomes clear.

I stumbled across these paintings because I follow the artist on Twitter. Her handle is @julia_hensley. I don’t follow her because she’s an artist; a writer that I follow follows her and I added her as I trolled looking for interesting people.

The other day Hensley posted a link that took me to the painting above.

We see a lot of things every day in this vast flowing digital stream. When I looked at the painting, I had two immediate sensations: I know this place and What is this painter doing?

Think of the impulses in Freudian terms: my Id and my Ego chiming in at the same time.

The second impulse was intellectual, an impulse to place the style and aesthetic, determine whether the form was executed with spirit and ability, whether the composition and vision was immediate and authentic. These are hard things to judge when you look at a digital representation of a physical piece of art.

The second impulse was pure emotion. I know that I’ve seen that scene before.

Look at the painting. It’s abstract,a minimal in its approach. If it is someplace, it could be anyplace.

Then I noticed the title: “Upper West Side.”

Yes! That captures it, looking down 96th Street from Amsterdam out to the Hudson River, the inexpressible beauty of the juxtaposition, the permanence, the evanescence,the great pull of the here and the far away.

I clicked through the other paintings in the series with the same bursts of recognition. My intellectual assessment was subsumed by a visceral connection with these surprisingly representational abstract works.

Somewhere on her web site, I found a short explanation of the work by Hensley. Here’s an excerpt:

I paint how I see.

The difference between an abstract and representational painting is the number of clues.

This approach extends beyond painting. When you create, you are giving the world clues to what you see. Each word, each note, each stroke is another piece of information, that in combination with others in the work, elicit recognition and awareness in the audience.

The power of an impression is when the viewer owns the moment of discovery, can say that they felt it, connected with it, in an honest and authentic way.

As an artist, making that connection is the reward.

Hensley titles are the final clue. They root the image and give the viewer an index of reference points that he can use to connect the image to a place that influences palette, energy and composition.

It’s a generous and giving act by the artist.

Houston St. by Julia Hensley. Acrylic on Bristol Board; 12" x 8"; 2003

You can see Hensley’s work here on her website. Hope you enjoy it.