Veronica Lean Back
Brooklyn, New York
Oil on linen, 2005
30 x 40 in. (76.2 x 101.6 cm)
Collection of the artist
You may be small but you certainly take up a lot of space.
I am interested in projecting a quietly confident voicein demonstrating how a whisper can feel louder than a scream. By working in a dead palette, I set up subtle grays to make an impact through the viewers experience in discovering them. This allows me to push the contrast between dark and light while maintaining a deceptively tranquil environment. I often use backlight or silhouetting, and in this way I can treat the subject as simply another architectural element in the space.
Veronica Culhane has a remarkable presencesomething like a cat. She is simultaneously shy and confident. I painted her pulling away from us with her face in shadow to highlight her modesty. And yet her gaze locks directly onto us, pulling us into her enigma and displaying her enormous inner strength.
I use the composition to enhance this juxtaposition of the quiet and confident. I challenge the traditional importance we give to various elements by painting a lamppost or window frame with the same questioning eye I use to paint a hand. My goal is to alternately suppress and empower the importance of each element in the composition, be it subject or object.
This work, then, is about relationships. It examines how roles flip from dominant to submissive. It is about push and pull, polar opposites, contrasting emotions. It speaks about vulnerability, trust, guilt and betrayal. It enables me to confront the subtleties of a relationship in more symbolic terms.