Georganna Greene has a solo show, Adagio, coming up February 10th-March 5th at Red Arrow Gallery! The opening reception will be February 10th from 6-9pm.
Below is a recent interview with Georganna:
Georganna Greene is a painter that works to bridge abstraction with landscape. In searching for the space between action painting and observation, Georganna has found a unique language of abstraction. Below is a slightly edited interview where we discuss this.
Looking at your more concrete representations in comparison to the purely abstract pieces, I’m able to learn so much about how you manage to balance the two in other pieces.
Yes. In every single painting I’ve learned so much. The brushstrokes and emotional gestures become things that I recognize. How do I incorporate these leaves with this big slap of paint? There’s just always a new way to do that. Each painting surprises me with how that balance of abstraction and realism plays out, like you were saying. I also find comfort in seeing gravity in a painting, or seeing a base. A structure or a base for the thing to rest on, who knows what it is. It always comes back to some landscape.
I bet that takes a lot of discipline to stop when you find that sweet spot and not go too far in these.
Yeah. I think I’ve painted over a lot of good paintings when I didn’t really need to; when it would have been just as fine or better to make a new painting and then do something different to it. Sometimes I just have to accept that a painting does what it wants to do and in a few months I might appreciate certain things about it that I didn’t see before. One of these went through a lot of phases. When I first made the painting it was my junior year. I made a panel and did a figure study – a close up of a person sitting on a counter, very crisp, very high definition. I ended up painting over it and I really wish I hadn’t because it was a great painting, just not my current voice. But it represented an integral part of my academic journey. Still, it has been interesting to see it change. There have been probably 10 layers of paint since then and now I finally feel it’s done!
Is that usually how you go about it? You wait for a gut feeling?
Yeah, and I think I’ve just had too many instances where I over work paintings and now I’m a little bit more cautious about that gut feeling. If there’s any part of me that’s thinking, ‘you could stop right now,’ then I wait and let it sit. There’s something in that gut voice that still needs some space because, truly, you could just continue to work on a painting forever. That ties into another facet that I’m into right now which is plein air painting. Just getting out in nature. There’s something really cool about capturing a 30 second image with the light changing so quickly. I think in my mind it parallels with the idea of making a painting and chasing after your current mood because it’s gonna change you know? We are so temperamental, as people. I think I’ve done that a lot where I have been chasing a painting, or the painting has been chasing my mood and trying to keep up with me. I relate that to plein air because you can keep chasing the light forever, but you’ll never quite catch it. Maybe it’s better to just a let a painting be for that moment and just make a new painting for a new moment. I think that that’s an idea that is also starting to trickle into my abstract work: knowing when to take a rest.
Is there anything in particular in landscapes that you’re looking for?
You mean formally?
Yeah or just in the landscape itself, what your interest are in that area, or if it’s just a place with no meaning attached.
Thats a good question because it does really matter. I think you could turn any landscape into a painting and find an opportunity anywhere, but I’m such an inexperienced landscape painter that I really have to be looking for something interesting, or I feel like my painting could fall flat.
Sometimes I get enamored by just a color that I see in my daily landscape. I like to see diagonals and I like to see movement. Dynamic lines and forms, and sometimes if they’re not there I just have to put them in. This piece* ended up reminding me of walking at Radnor lake, those trails. You alway see fallen trees, stick piles. I’ve been out there more times than I can count. I’m still always taking mental snapshots every time I’m there. I think that that is kind of what that’s evoking for me, a forest floor, piles of old trees and sticks and things. And somehow that grey for me makes it peaceful and gives you a window to look into. None of that was planned at all. I just kind of noticed and pulled it out after looking at it for a while. That’s when I knew it was done, because it started to mean something to me.
What has you interested in plein air painting?
It’s something that has been around for so long, but that’s why I’m in interested in it. And the area that we live in; We’re all kind of taking that in whether we know it or not. We live in such a lush beautiful place. You can drive just outside of the city and you’re in rolling hills. So it’s kind of hard to not take that in. So I would say one big avenue is the land around middle TN landscape. And then that’s merging with these abstract, kind of ab ex techniques that I’m interested in.
And your interest in Abstract Expressionism?
A lot of that is from influence of Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Helen Frankenthaler. I’m fascinated by the way they took risks and how that was an integral part of the finished product- the risk taking. As far as landscape painters I’m interested in Richard Diebenkorn, as someone who takes the land and abstracts it into shapes and forms. You’re not always sure exactly what you’re looking at but that’s not really the point. You know you’re looking at something with depth that really draws you in. His colors are amazing. He taught as a professor as well and taught some contemporary painters that I love based out in the Bay area.
It doesn’t seem like you include a lot of narrative in your work. Is that true or is there something more going on?
There is but it’s hard to put into words, the way I personally connect with these pieces. I’ve been focusing on more of just experimental abstraction lately, but these pieces that I had in the Julia Martin show were from a plant series I had been working on. I made 8 or 10 paintings of plants perched on window sills, playing with light and shadow. Those seemed to be packed with a lot of meaning for me like growth, the way that light illuminates parts of you but you cast others in shadow. Just that sort of symbolism and relating to it personally. They’re all scenes from my home too, so it’s my day to day existence being reflected. But it’s different with these abstract paintings. I’m still trying to chew on what it is, how I connect with them. Right now I think its the landscape that’s connecting me to them. Its evoking the places that I grew up seeing, the woods I walked through as a kid, that I still walk through.
I’m sure the growth of Nashville has come into play as well.
I’m from the Brentwood area which is why it was so woody. But yeah it feels much more urban now. I currently live in West Nashville and I’m just around a lot of people. It’s a very different experience than growing up in a small suburb. I definitely think about those ideas about Nashville and how it has been home for me and how much it has grown and become a new place. I think I’ve been countering that with these slow, meditative paintings.
That’s very interesting because your paintings do not come across as slow to me, they are very active.
I know, it’s really weird. Sometimes I’ll go through a day where I’m really feeling energized and do a lot to painting but even after that I’ll have to come back many more times and just make little marks and kind of hone in and meditate. It really is a slow thing for me which I like. The pace of life in western culture is ridiculous. I’m kind of introverted and a verbal processor, so I have to have conversations to process the things that I’m taking in and learning. That’s all honestly just too fast for me sometimes, and there’s so many distractions, that I like just being able to take my damn time when I’m painting. That’s something that has become really important.
What makes these paintings personal to you?
We are absorbing so much right now in today’s world. There’s a new crazy headline every day and everyone’s just trying to make sense of things. I hear a lot of noise through the internet, texting, social media, even the way Netflix just comes in and makes us feel like it’s okay to just watch TV for 8 hours. I don’t even think I always realize it but my head kind of buzzes from it all. So yeah I think that’s personal to me, needing to get away from that buzzing for my own sanity within the landscape itself or just paintings themselves. So it’s that relationship that makes it personal, rather than the subject or a narrative. The relationship of me letting go of what it needs to be or what it should be. And just coming and working, just making the work.