Janet Pierce by Ted Hickey|
Although Janet Pierce has lived and worked in Ireland for over twenty years, the characteristics of her art and the impulses behind it were very much forged in her native Scotland.
Scottish art in the twentieth century - from the Glasgow Boys through the Colourists to the Edinburgh School - was dominated by the influence of French Impressionism and Post-Impressionism and a kind of hedonistic painterliness, the predominance of landscape and still-life as subject matter, and an uninhibited approach to the expressive possibilities of watercolour.
I remember my first sighting of Janet's work in her house near Enniskillen about fifteen years ago, and, in particular, one landscape painting reminiscent of the work of Helen Frankenthaler - suave in form, intensely staining unprimed canvas a deep red. I was struck at the time at the sheer confidence and panache she showed working on such a large scale. She had, indeed, spent a four-year period in the United States by then, and found the discovery of artists like Frankenthaler and Georgia O'Keeffe and Colour Field painting deeply liberating and inspirational. Paul Dirac, the English theoretical physicist, once wrote, 'It is more important to have beauty in one's equations than to have them fit experiment'. Plerce's large and ambitious new canvases are similarly driven by an aesthetic imperative rather than an ideological one - works that contain, express and resolve turmoil.
The watery landscapes of Fermanagh, too, have indubitably left their mark on her sensibility - lake, earth and sky gradually merging, the blurring of edges and elements. Indeed, her paintings are probably better described as elemental' rather than 'landscape', a kind of geology of passion.
Hugh MacDiarmid has written of the Scottish painter of an earlier generation, William Johnstone, words which could also apply to the work of Janet Pierce'.
How the utmost extension is but a point, and how
Light, harmony, movement, power
All identical, all separate, and all united are life.'
Ted Hickey 1995 ©
Heartland (c) by Janet Pierce
Watercolour on Paper 62x70cms 42x48cms (image) © 2003