Tuesday, 1 April 2008



In her current show at Von Lintel, NY, the artist turns to more complex permutations on the essentially linear motifs that have sustained her long career. The new work renounces colour to concentrate on a dense combination of short lines, set curves, with variously angled ends. The system or pattern displayed, occasionally allows a grid to the overall picture, but pattern beyond that is actually non-repeating, in configuration of distinct elements, not unlike aperiodic tiling in mathematics, where limited modules are combined without repetition.

Interestingly, such tiling has recently been detected in traditional Islamic decoration, an initial source of inspiration for Jaudon. But her project has hardly been directed to such obscure geometry; on the contrary, it has largely been concerned with obvious and familiar pattern, with their entrenched associations and symbols. Jaudon emerged in the early 70s, and is usually linked with the Pattern and Decoration movement, concerned with the acceptance of a wider range of folk and traditional motifs in painting. Jaudon is positioned at the Minimalist end of such an undertaking, with her interlaced stripes taking their cue from the work of Frank Stella, as well as in use of Asian or Islamic titles, metallic pigments and the pale outlines or rims to stripes.

Under Minimalism, basic pattern in stripes, grids or monochrome, were matched or tested against striking application of materials, scale and situation. It defined painting on those terms, yet quickly appealed to sculptural and architectural considerations (see also Post 28). Just what pattern supported such extension to painting, just what painting allowed such pattern, essentially measures the course of Minimalism, its steady acquisition of maximising attributes (see also Post 10 and 79). Pattern and Decoration (P&D) pursued more elaborate motifs, soon arrived at the figurative or repeating pictures, and is instead drawn to prints, textiles and other craft; similarly disperses the project for painting. Jaudon’s interlaced stripes are thus cautious by P&D goals. She resists both more figurative motifs and shaped canvas, or more architectural projection. Her civic commissions are duly competent but unexceptional as design or technique. Her painting constrains vigorous surface or facture by intricate pattern rather than threatening pattern with less compliant surface, although this aspect is all but invisible in reproduction, due to the large scale of works. One perceives the pattern at a distance (and in reproduction), the painting up close, so that the two need hardly fight over middle ground.

Interweaving stripes and the implied depth to Minimalist pattern are pursued in angled grids in the 70s, by artists such as Sean Scully and the largely forgotten Don Sorenson. But Jaudon has no interest in even this much depth or relaxation to painting. Her patterns can accommodate Gothic arches and arcs of various span and intersection, but the ‘background’ to such stripes or bands is rarely greater than the width of a band. Depth, or more picture cannot test her painting either, and her range to pattern and painting emerges as rather conservative in comparison with rivals, perhaps classical in its restraint. By the 80s the range of abstract and figurative motifs used in painting all but dissolves ‘pure’ abstraction (see also Posts 24 and 53) and attention shifts from obvious pattern to something like problematic relations between motifs (see Posts 32 and 78). Here too, Jaudon’s work looks diligent but dull however she soon rises to the challenge. She allows motifs more background, stretches the interval between interweaving bands and introduces softened or blurred vertical bands that compete with more regular and symmetrical motifs. The effect is not unlike the illusion of draped fabric. At any rate, interest lies in distinguishing such disruptions to pure pattern, as a more insistent measure of surface or ‘background’.

Jaudon then develops two further strategies to test integrity of pattern. The first is with greater colour and definition to stripes in the ‘background’, the second is with greater variety of colour and shape within the ‘foreground’ pattern, although she maintains hard edges and even curves. For all its severity, the work finally makes room for more painting, for greater incident and interest. In the latest work, this relaxation surprisingly does without the tension between ‘background’ and ‘foreground’, pattern and painting, instead focuses on variations to motif, and motif reduced to relatively short, broad white lines in close relations. In some ways the work harks back to the early 70s in the density and intricacy of elements, but pattern has now gained a deeper, more sophisticated project, for the moment demands less of painting.

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