FELICITY NOVE: POURED PAINTINGS
Paintings that consist of nothing but poured paint – clear results of the manipulation of pigment on a support – would seem to be the ne plus ultra of painting. They supposedly look like nothing but paint. But there’s always something else they can look like, something else they can feel like, some other state of being they can represent or convey. The density of Felicity Nove’s paintings attests not so much to her pouring techniques as to certain sensations and conditions, sensations and conditions that such paintings don’t just remind us exist, but inspire us to experience. In their forms, colors, and indeed their energy they conjure a naturally occurring world of vitalizing vibrancy and imposing obduracy, daunting power and rejuvenating brilliance. These are not pictures of nature, they are samples of nature.
After all, the paint flows “naturally.” Nove may direct it and play with it, but what she does ultimately is give the impulses that are already there some sort of structural context. She does not tell the paint what aspect(s) of nature to convey, but only to be itself, to be natural, and she steps in at certain points and provides guidance. The results are as distinctive as they are refreshing; their precedents are many but their effect is particular, even unanticipated.
When asked by an interviewer if he felt he was painting from nature, Jackson Pollock said he was “not painting from nature, but painting nature.” The interviewer challenged Pollock’s apparent presumption, effectively asking him, “Who are you to ‘paint nature’?” “I am nature,” Pollock replied. In this, of course, Pollock did not mean that he encompassed the natural universe like some god, but that he was part of the universe, a piece of the planet, an entity as credibly integral to nature as any bird or stone or tree or cloud who, in his sentience, wanted to investigate and recapitulate that state of existence. It is this tradition of realization that Felicity Nove works: she neither finds herself in nature nor finds nature in herself, but finds herself doing nature, and finds what nature does to her – and us.
Peter Frank (Senior Curator, Riverside Art Museum)