Recently I got to check out Elizabeth Hazan's glowing new abstractions--lyrical paintings that reference the landscape of her childhood--at her DUMBO studio. We talked about her process, color strategies, surfaces, and what it was like growing up with notable New York School painters Jane Freilicher and Joe Hazan as parents. They divided their time between Manhattan and Water Mill, a town on the eastern end of Long Island where the farms and open fields that were so familiar to Hazan have begun to disappear.
Two Coats of Paint: You have a lot of new work! I'm struck by your excellent eye for color relationships. Tell me about the color choices and your process.
Elizabeth Hazan: When I originally started painting abstractly, I intentionally reduced my palette. At that point I was painting trees, largely from photographs and I loved the emulsion. I started doing ink drawings-- isolating sections, pixelating spots, and painting them. It wasn’t a conscious move away from representation at all, more that I followed where the work took me. I looked a lot at Mondrian, making the work more geometric. As much as I tried to be reductive, I was producing very busy pictures. The ones in which I tried to tamp down my natural exuberance were pretty dull, I have to admit. This was 2007-10, I had an idea that I would use seven or eight colors, like a music scale, like jazz variations. They were bright, but they were limited in terms of the palette. I’ve been thinking a lot about editing, how learning to edit your own pictures is a hallmark of making more mature work. Some people, like Alex Katz apparently are born with the eye for it. It’s something artists have in common with writers, how much of the work is in the editing.
[Image at top: Elizabeth Hazan, Jamaica Bay, 2016, oil on canvas, 47 x 50 inches.]