From the series Postcard Paintings
“… [Rousseau] fills his tropical canvases so full of detail that it can only be taken in a little at a time as the eye moves across the surface – in all these cases he suggests the possibility of an unrolling in time as well as in space. It is cinematographic time (a succession of ‘stills’), not chronological time.”
Roger Shattuck, The Banquet Years, 1968
Rousseau Cinématique consists of nine paintings that are based on Henri Rousseau’s The Horse Being Attacked by a Jaguar. In 2007, I created a collage of the image on a postcard, interspersing body parts from Mexican porno comic books throughout the landscape. These new elements created a sense of punctuation in the overall chaos of the jungle scene. I recognized that Rousseau’s paintings have a shallow depth of field and limited perspective. Since comics and the idea of sequential narrative are influences in my work, I conceived of a cinematic approach to the painting. I was stunned to later read Shattuck’s confirmation of my understanding of Rousseau (see quotation above). As in the movies, the viewer’s attention goes from a close-up to a wide-shot in a series of differently scaled panels. I worked digitally to not only integrate my additions within the Rousseau painting, but also to strengthen the tension in the permutations as the eye moves between the successive “still frames.”
Rousseau Cinématique is a part of my current series, Postcard Paintings, which explores other artists’ work while juxtaposing my own imagery within it. I collage onto body parts from erotic Mexican comic books. Much as a modern disc jockey remixes music, I work on the computer by overlapping and integrating the new information into the work of other artists. From these permutations, I create a painting on a larger scale in oils on linen that incorporates the original collaged elements. The enlarged scale of the body part has a dot-matrix degradation that contrasts with the classical oil-painting technique. As my work evolves, it becomes a dialogue between myself and the other artist. I acknowledge the other style, while asserting my own vision in developing the image. In this way, I hope to present a new interpretation of the original for today’s contemporary audience.
Pamela Joseph, 2009