Louise Belcourt in her Williamsburg studio.
A year ago in The Brooklyn Rail I wrote about Louise Belcourt's show at Jeff Bailey Gallery, and yesterday, after a quick visit to see the show at Soloway on South 4th, we caught up in her Williamsburg studio. She continues to paint abstract landscapes that reference her childhood home on the south shore of the Saint Lawrence River in Canada, where she spends several months each year, and her studio, which overlooks Manhattan and the Williamsburg Bridge.
Belcourt's process begins with careful observation of her everyday environment. In Canada, she routinely fills her sketchbooks with gouache landscape studies. Surrounded by blocky geometic forms that impede the natural view (huge, manicured 100-year old hedges in Canada; industrial buildings in Brooklyn), Belcourt is drawn to their pronounced and inexorable physicality--their heavy and decisive placement in the world. In her paintings, she convincingly challenges the notion that they are obstacles.
Part of this artistic alchemy turns on her preoccupation with coaxing the illusion of crisp, clear light from pigment. "Finding the right color that will give light, space and the feeling of hope (goodness, elegance, rightness of purpose) to each work is a major concern," she says. "This is how I approach painting. It’s not that I am painting a ‘landscape,’ it’s that I know I am fundamentally a part of it and the reason for painting is to find out a little bit more about that."
Louise Belcourt, "Land #7," 2008, gouache on paper, 22" x 29." Belcourt showed me several striking gouaches that inexplicably weren't included in the 2010 show at Jeff Bailey.
Louise Belcourt, "Land #10 ," 2008, gouache on paper, 22" x 29"
IMAGES is a regular feature devoted to work by painters who deserve more love.