Janet Fish (born 1938)
EMBROIDERY FROM UZBEKISTAN,2008
Oil on canvas
50 x 70 inches
Museum purchase with funds provided by the Medici Society
EMBROIDERY FROM UZBEKISTAN
A Janet Fish painting is a celebration of light and color that continually delights the eye and engages the mind. Fish invigorates the still-life form, both by the energetic way that she paints and the often witty and ironic combinations of objects that she depicts. Glass bowls overflowing with fruit, exotic vases filled with vibrant flowers, sumptuous rugs and textiles, seashells, and a variety of flea market finds and edible treats are among the objects that are precisely arranged and rendered in decisive yet fluid strokes of intensely colored paint.
Fish attributes her fascination with light and intense color to having grown up amid the dazzling brightness and vibrant tropical colors of Bermuda. An artistic family also contributed to her early interest in art. Her grandfather was Clark Voorhees, the American Impressionist; her mother and uncle were sculptors; and her father occasionally taught art history.
After graduating with an MFA from Yale University in 1963, Fish moved to New York City. Her painting from the late ’60s and early ’70s are studies of transparent objects in which she began her life-long exploration of the nature and substance of light. From the start, she adapted commonplace objects to her painterly concerns, insisting that the subject matter was relatively unimportant. For Fish, meaning comes from the tone, gesture, color, light, scale and composition.
During the 1970s, Fish gradually opened up the backgrounds of her paintings and introduced more color and complexity. Since 1978, she has spent half the year in New York and half in the Green Mountains of Vermont. The shift to Vermont coincided with the incorporation of still life, human figures, and the landscape into increasingly complex scenes. As her recent paintings show, light and color, volume and surface, scale, gesture and the flow of paint across the canvas are what continue to absorb and fascinate her today.