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Janet Bruce: Locus Amoenus
14 January, 2023 - 26 February, 2023
Les Yeux du Monde is pleased to present its first show of 2023, Locus Amoenus, a new body of work by Janet Bruce.
Janet Bruce’s new work began in the time of isolation brought by covid, during which she embarked on an extensive, near-obsessive color exploration. 360 color studies emerged from this period, many of which are included in a 160-inch-tall installation in her exhibition at LYDM. Her wall installation offers a joyful history of our cultural fascination with color. With a nod to the long-ranging influence of color theorists Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Eugène Chevreul, Bruce engages in a visual discourse with modern colorists ranging from Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse, Paul Klee, Mark Rothko, Joan Mitchell to the contemporary work of Gerhard Richter, Stanley Whitney and even the design team at Pantone. A chromatic tour de force, the scale and brilliance of this installation is flooring.
During this time of creative development, Bruce balanced her rigorous investigations of color with quiet, meditative walks in the woods. Rooted in place, and especially inspired by Nicholas Poussin’s and Cy Twombly’s respective interpretations of the four seasons, she composed her own visual odes to nature’s seasons. Combining sequences of layered colors with the gestural line for which she is known, Bruce taps into the expressive aspects of the natural world in sometimes lyrical and other times powerfully dramatic ways.
Per Bruce, “The title for this body of work is Locus Amoenus – meaning an idealized place of safety and comfort, for me in the studio, pushing limits of color relationships into abstract realities.” The locus amoenus is also understood as a pleasant natural space in a literal sense–a forest or garden, for example–that often manifests in a metaphoric way as an unrestricted state of being where feeling and imagination have free reign. Bruce’s show is aptly named.
Janet Bruce received her B.A. in studio art from Amherst College, where she studied with Abstract Expressionist Grace Hartigan, and also studied at the Art Institute of Boston and the Corcoran in D.C. with William Christenberry. Born in Washington, D.C., Bruce’s early influences include the Washington Color School and the modernist paintings at the Phillips Collection, where she worked for 10 years after graduating college. Bruce has been awarded prestigious residencies nationally and internationally, most recently at Moulin à Nef, the VCCA residency in Auvillar, France. Her work can be found in important public and private collections in the US and abroad.