• MELINDA BRAATHEN

  • When painting the figure, Melinda Braathen is often met with the impulse to paint into or directly over it. After...
    Melinda Braathen, Her Passing, 2019, oil on Canvas

    When painting the figure, Melinda Braathen is often met with the impulse to paint into or directly over it. After several passes, what remains is an interpretation of internal psychology and physiology, in an effort to render visible everyday rhythms and sensations arising inside the body, as well as external forces exerted onto it.

     

    In a new series, Braathen leans further into this abstract visual language to more directly explore interpersonal dynamics. She engages with this most readily within the space of conversation. The rhythm, tone, pressures and content held within the human voice and body physiologically affect us all differently. They help give shape to the evanescent structures we are continuously building as a means to understand each other and ultimately transgress the space between us.

     

    Braathen relies on drawing to initially capture or hold onto fleeting memories or impressions. The abstract language allows her to go past the representational triggers and reflect more specifically on the emerging sensations, thoughts, and innovative actions within the space of conversation that have the power to shift us slightly or even irreversibly. While Braathen mostly draws from lived experience, she also pulls from passages of books and interviews between innovative thinkers from a variety of fields to explore the inexhaustible architecture of conversation and human encounter.

  • Melinda Braathen, Thoughts Make Their Own Distinct Shapes, 2020

    Melinda Braathen

    Thoughts Make Their Own Distinct Shapes, 2020 Oil on canvas
    48 x 36 in
    121.9 x 91.4 cm
  • Thoughts Make Their Own Distinct Shapes, 2020, explores the inner-workings of a thoughtful question, comment, or insight. They have the...

    Thoughts Make Their Own Distinct Shapes, 2020, explores the inner-workings of a thoughtful question, comment, or insight. They have the capacity to spark the imagination and often require a deeper kind of internal search to adequately respond. The orange seed-like form in the painting represents such a question. Emerging from the oval-shape is an illuminated interior space coming into form. In this painting, the diagonal line separates the interior from the exterior world. This painting asks what creative acts and risks can be performed within daily interactions to transgress the space between people in ways that continuously brings us back to a thoughtful question?

  • Melinda Braathen, V. Woolf, A Column of Spray, 2020

    Melinda Braathen

    V. Woolf, A Column of Spray, 2020 Oil on canvas
    30 x 26 in
    76.2 x 66 cm
  • V. Woolf - A Column of Spray, 2020, explores 20th Century modernist writer Virginia Woolf. It references a passage from...

    V. Woolf - A Column of Spray, 2020, explores 20th Century modernist writer Virginia Woolf. It references a passage from her Novel To The Lighthouse, which follows the Ramsay family living in Scotland.

     

    – “Mrs. Ramsay, who had been sitting loosely, folding her son in her arms, braced herself, and half turning, seemed to raise herself with an effort, and at once to pour erect into the air a rain of energy, a column of spray, looking at the same time animated and alive as if all her energies were being fused into force, burning and illuminating (quietly though she sat, taking up her stockings again), and into this delicious fecundity, this fountain of spray of life, the fatal sterility of the male plunged itself, like a beak of brass, barren and bare. He wanted sympathy. He was a failure, he said...” –

     

    Woolf uses common literary devices to move through several layers of experience in order to describe the interpersonal dynamics between father, son and mother. However, Braathen finds inspiration in the innovation she employs to capture the intangible physiological responses and raw energy. How can this be translated into paint? Braathen made several iterations, initially depicting the father standing over the mother and son, but with each pass the figures dissolved into a series of abstract forms. What remained were the undercurrents— the direction of attention, the expenditure of energy, and the subtle actions made by Mrs. Ramsay to lessen the anger and irritation between father and son. Braathen uses color (hot and cold, expansive and contractive) to further describe the psychological undertones.

  • Melinda Braathen, Time as Parent to Presence, 2020

    Melinda Braathen

    Time as Parent to Presence, 2020 Oil on canvas
    24 x 20 in
    61 x 50.8 cm
  • Melinda Braathen, A Conversation with Amy Mackay, 2020

    Melinda Braathen

    A Conversation with Amy Mackay, 2020 Oil on canvas
    20 x 16 in
    50.8 x 40.6 cm
  • A Conversation with Amy MacKay, 2020, is the first work in the ongoing “Conversation” Series. While in dialogue with a...

    A Conversation with Amy MacKay, 2020, is the first work in the ongoing “Conversation” Series. While in dialogue with a dear friend and fellow painter, Braathen observed MacKay skillfully slow down a stream of thought and carefully lift out a section to be reexamined. Braathen recalls a flash of color and form that traced and tracked the rhythm and speed, the distinct geometry of the emerging thoughts, and how they moved in the transient space. The abstract language stands in as a visual reminder or memory of the sensed pressures felt while conversing, rather than the more recognizable elements— her face, gestures, or the surrounding environment.

  • Within the “Conversation” Series, Braathen uses drawing in a frenetic attempt to hold onto a fleeting experience. The painting then becomes a meditation on the creative acts within conversations and a portrait of the people who make them.

    • Melinda Braathen An Opening, 2020 Oil on canvas 20 x 16 in 50.8 x 40.6 cm
      Melinda Braathen
      An Opening, 2020
      Oil on canvas
      20 x 16 in
      50.8 x 40.6 cm
    • Melinda Braathen A Shift, 2020 Oil on canvas 20 x 16 in 50.8 x 40.6 cm
      Melinda Braathen
      A Shift, 2020
      Oil on canvas
      20 x 16 in
      50.8 x 40.6 cm
  • An Opening, 2020, and A Shift, 2020, are two works from the “Conversation” series. When conversations aren’t simply intersecting monologues, anything from a subtle to tectonic shift is possible. An Opening is a visual exploration of a real-life confrontation in which a more vitalizing solution was gradually reached through inquiry, deep listening, and the cultivation of enough space.

  • Melinda Braathen, A Conversation with Amy Mackay, 2020

    Melinda Braathen

    A Conversation with Amy Mackay, 2020 Pastel on paper
    28 1/2 x 22 1/2 in
    72.4 x 57.1 cm