Building from Formalism, Yeardley Leonard lends modernist eye to architectural landscape
“In the Garden” (2004), an acrylic on canvas, juxtaposes citric yellows with powder blue squares which coalesce toward the center forming an almost digitized abstract portrait. With a slight shift to rectilinear lavender and yellow color patches in “Almost There” (2004) Leonard builds modernist concerns from an architectural landscape. In “Practice Resurrection” (2004) interlocking forms of purples, creams, yellows, and greens flatten out across the planar surface forcing it to be read as an all over image and calling attention to it object qualities. “Wait For Me” (2004), a yellow and purple long rectangular painting, works best in its balance of an interior/ exterior spatial reading and its pluralistic plastic values.
Formalist ideas are not new, but Leonard’s feminization of a male apollonian format builds a heterogeneous tension whose contradictions are systematically released through visual rhythms and the flickering of light. Visual hums of planar relationships are successfully reached by the push-pull tension of varying values of chromatic concerns slowly unfolding against the context of dimishing time. With the seduction achieved with the repetition and movement of familiar forms, a depth of visual meditation is achieved.
Unlike formalism, the referential cosmetic color and the refusal of flatness employed here create an illusion pointing us to images whether they be digitized virtual locations, visions of high-end suburban strip mall shopping spaces, or the simulacrum of a modernist painting. These paintings balance questions of empty signifiers and decorous influence with highly educated choices of craft, objectification and the current concerns within the hegemony of painting.