In her studio.
The range of work to be found in Janis Goodman's studio offers a compendium of drawing concerns, representing in some ways the schizophrenic condition of the 21st C artist who draws. What to do after Jackson Pollock? The modernist narrative of drawing - moving through the allegories of Surrealism, to a pure performative space, and finally landing in the theatrical space of minimalism - is over. But maybe Pollock's story wasn't so clean, anyway.
Goodman's work clusters into different ways of imagining space.
There is baroque space, a metonymic piece of the whole: the drawing moves off the edges, suggesting a beyond. In images of water, hatched and erased surfaces are atmospheric, shimmering, illusory. Other related drawings show human intervention: footprints, drawing in the mud with a stick, the wedge like mark left by a kayak. As one layer of marks etched over another, these are benign traces soon to be softened by the return of the water's edge.
Another group of drawings reiterate the literal space of the piece of paper they are on. Incisive marks reach toward the edges, but then cluster back towards the middle of the page. Although now not a space you can enter, the marks form figures. Some at first glance resemble the classic three-minute gesture of a figure-drawing class, the human figure caught in motion. But the labor of the multiple marks belie that brevity which might otherwise be encapsulated by one quick swoop of charcoal. These shapes were actually drawn from photographs of splashes of water, which accounts for a spatiality that can't be invented.
In some of these drawings the clusters of marks seem to be responding to a static marker; a diagonal stick, a continuous horizon line, a dull looking rock-like shape. The flat-footedness of these symbols suggest a conceptual conceit or some kind of buried minimalism, but Goodman says these are actual things she saw: a waterfall in Iceland, a strange diagonal chasm in a landscape, or a rock on Deer Island. The literalness of them is rather like spotting the little foot with a ball and chain wrapped around it in an otherwise sublime seascape by Turner.
Goodman's work is not, however, interested in duplication, the simple fact of representation. The drawings are about perception, which is unpacked to the point of slow motion, living and reliving something that is all too quick. There is a need in her work for nothing to be too easy. There is a condition of anxiety that hovers over the relationship between abstraction and representation, and that can be found in the marks she makes. Self-conscious delight in the nuance of gradations to be had from drawing with graphite coalesces into a fevered stabbing. How does a light autumn breeze become Katrina? By walking us through the ways of making pictures with marks, her drawings construct our relationship with our own surroundings: one of contemplation, intervention, and then perhaps the less easy one of witnessing an event.