“What is being said always come first and is supported by my mediums and colour palette.”
In learning by doing, artist Joyce Kubat opens her mindset into a fearless acceptance of what flows through. This fluid process has resulted in her 2002 Pastel Paintings, which she speaks of as “breakthrough” work, featuring nude models depicted with raw strokes of compressed wet pastel. Alongside this, Joyce’s smaller and more intimate acrylic series Pinks began to take form, recognisable by their bleeding rosy hues.
The New York-based figurative artist shares her thoughts on her past works with Old Tat.
“Art that goes beyond the obvious, that goes beyond copying, that goes to the gut, that says something, excites me.The figure has always been my focus, and over the years it’s become a psychological focus, a not-always-easy-to-view focus.
I feel an artist finds out what they have to say by doing. It is discovered during the working process, being open to glimpses, fearlessly accepting whatever happens no matter what. Get angry with yourself, reject the obvious. Go to a deeper level within where your truth resides, where things feel right. Use materials that feel natural, that allow you to play.
Art with only surface excitement seems empty. It has to have a serious and profound underpinning, always poignant, often humorous, relating in some way to the universal humanity common to all of us.
Upon reflecting on my process, I formed the ‘Thoughts’ above, and by living those thoughts, I reached an internal vision as unique to me as a fingerprint. What is being said always comes first and is supported by my mediums and colour palette. The pastels give me much flexibility in endlessly removing and redoing, and my colour palette flows from what I am saying.
The main benefits of drawing from life are the empathy or feelings released in oneself, and the discipline and unpredictability of working from whatever pose you get and whomever the model is. The temptation to copy, to fall back on academic ways to analyse the figure, is the biggest drawback. It’s how you process and respond to what you see that is unique.
My breakthrough work began in 2002 resulting in the large-scale Pastel Paintings series included here. They are my groups, my families. Working horizontally, I completely wet the large sheet of paper and worked from the nude model with compressed pastel, which, when wet, is very intense, thick, spontaneous, uncontrollable and sensuous. I could not be clean or accurate, but I could wash out and put in new heads and figures as often as needed until something unexpected surfaced. By this process a world peopled with unusual characters emerged. I discovered a form of psychological realism, a commentary on the human condition and interrelationships. It’s the psychological aspect that interests me, and I believe the viewer responds to. It sucks them in and keeps them there, sometimes uncomfortably so.
Parallel with the large works came my small, intimate Pinks. They began in 2002 when I playfully drew a clothesline and hung body parts from it. It was my way of breaking away from copying to something personal. I use an acrylic based ink, a red earth colour. The colour is a life force or blood, raw and visceral at times. When seeing the earthiness of the colour, one cannot help but relate it both physically and psychologically to human beings, and to oneself. That is what my art is about. My ultimate project would be filling up a huge gallery with exciting work.”
Words by Alice Freeman