by Jerry Cullum

In many ways, Gail Foster is her own best advocate. What follows is a composite statement extracted from several hours of conversation in which she explained at some length her process of working and how it relates to her overall vision of spiritual unity. Fosterís quest has paralleled that of the great mythographers of our fast-closing century, who also found the true depth of the human journey encoded in the various forms of the worldís folktales (not the tidied-up versions we learned as children); insight is much the same whether it occurs in Europe, Japan or Egypt, recorded in elegant volumes or recited by the fireside. Fosterís paintings form gateways for our own entrance into those levels of insight that, in the final analysis, are accessible within ourselves as we cease to be our own inattentive ďselvesĒÖ when we become more or other than we ordinarily believe ourselves to be.

Now let us allow Gail Foster to speak for herself, in words I have done no more than arrange in the order that her vision implies.

I steer away from literal portraitureómy portraits always combine gestures and postures of several people. I learned academic portraiture early, and I think itís absolutely beautiful. But Iím interested in exploring much more basic questions: ďWhat am I here for?Ē

Ascension is a continual themeóthe spiritual idea of reaching up and moving forward. That leads to the larger thought of our place as human beings. A constant theme that I explore is ďAre we falling or are we rising?Ē Sometimes a figure in a painting will begin as a falling one and turn into a rising figure by the end of the process.

When I paint or draw the figure, I want the fire, the passion, and the light of the soul to come out through the energy of the movement. I find some of that in German Expressionism; I feel almost a family kinship with artists like Käthe Köllwitz, Rainer Fetting and Emil Nolde.

Dance and ritual are a never-ending interest for meóboth are about life and movement. Iíve been inspired by many different religious and literary traditions that deal with the movement from darkness to light. The light remains even in the works dealing with transition and death. Changes, passages, and choices are all part of the journey.

I canít paint a dark figure. No matter what happens around the figure, thereís still that light from within. Knowledge is ultimately cellular and intuitiveóitís in our bodies. Art, if itís to be truly good, needs to tap into that level of inner knowing, that inner light.

The many layers of my paintings and drawings are a basic part of that search for inner knowledge. In my drawings, I use six different charcoalsóthe layers upon layers are a way of getting to the point of connection where a couple of strokes finish the work. When that happens, the link between the work and me is literally physical. That total connection is importantóin the end, every part of a painting has to work. The color has to seem spontaneous and haphazard, but if you open yourself up, the corners will be as important as the central figures. I learned long ago that the most effortless-looking painting isnít effortless. Nevertheless, the technique isnít what matters; itís just the means of getting there.

As some of the work in this exhibition shows, Iíve been reading the many different versions of fairy tales and stories. They emanate power. I want the layers of my painting or drawing to communicate the same levels of energy and power.

I paint both male and female energies as literal gender or as forces within a single personality. I want, though, to leave the images open so viewers can connect with those energies on whatever level they want. The work is much less about my experience than about those energies. I am a woman, so I reflect human experience from that viewpoint, but my work isnít just about genderóitís about the shared human condition.

With the connections I make in the paintings and drawings, I hope to compensate in some way for our lack of ritual. We race around distracted, and forget how to see and experience the momentóand if art is supposed to do anything, it should take us back into the moment.


© 2010 bill lowe gallery  |  site by visualiti