Bringing on the Aither
Lisa Kellner’s work primarily addresses the relationship of identity to the superficial exterior. She probes the facade, what’s underneath and the impulse to cover up. In Bringing on the Aither, large seemingly abstract works are accompanied by small, delicately painted realistic images. Based on the mythological origins of ether, Lisa’s paintings explore the reality of memory and hardship in contemporary living and the necessity to conceal or disguise it with something else, the Aither. The ancient Greeks considered “Aither” to be pure essence, a haven where the gods lived and a substance they breathed. Aither was the Protogenos (first-born elemental god) of the bright, glowing upper air of heaven, the substance of light. In her paintings, Lisa blends disparate components to create her own Aither. She invites the viewer to experience the resulting work where representation and abstraction, story telling and concealment, intersect and morph as one.
The large ‘abstract’ paintings are fashioned from multiple strata of dissimilar painting techniques blended together. Each work begins with a fully realized image that forms the narrative of the painting. This occurs as text inscribed across the canvas, as in “Testament of the Seven Year Old”, or depictions of people, places and things of import, as in “Vanity”. Subsequent layers of paint are added, mixed and scraped away until the initial imagery is obliterated, yet slightly visible. A structure is formed as a result of how these bands of paint interact with each other. Each painting pushes the capacity of the canvas by imposing as many possibilities to form the “one”.
For the small oil paintings, ordinary, yet significant, objects serve as an examination on how space can be occupied and the constructed environment. Trousseau (I – IV), considers ancient hand made linens as ensuing artifacts of a parent who disowned their child when that child made the decision to immigrate. Here, Lisa uses objects loaded with ulterior meaning to perform as the basis for an emotive topography. The intent is to generate a panoramic pause, small but impactful, where the memory of a thing becomes the landscape of circumstance.
Bringing on the Aither, assembles the artist’s explorations in painting and sculpture to negotiate a concise visual experience in a rapidly consuming and disposable world. For Lisa, clarity comes from examining the relationships and tension between opposing elements.