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Joanna Layla. ‘The Painter stripped bare by her Bachelors’
by Patrick Morgan
When I was first met with a painting by Joanna Layla, I was hit with a graphic circle, an Orange Sun like shape amongst the midst of brush strokes. Joanna Layla and I then met in person for the first time at the Fida awards, when I was just about to announce the Fida awards and she was among the group of potential nervous shortlisted. In that flashing instance she quickly prompted that she had decided on an art stop gap, then an AHA moment, then the lights switching on in the room, like Martin Creed’s Tate modern installation.
Probably like Creed, Joanna had decided that things couldn’t stay as they were, she had to take back control, be the artist she always strived to be.
Being an artist; the struggle that every creative goes through daily, to create a drawing, bare their soul, find a way to be discovered by the world, or share their story, their vision.
I wondered what really was drawing me to her work, then it struck me. If you look back through the history of Japanese woodblock paintings and printmaking, it’s all there, ready to be unfolded and discovered.
‘Ten Scenes of the Sea - Black Current’ by Yokoyama Taikan, which was a series of artworks on paper by an artist influenced by western art, mixed with traditional japanese painting.
Like Joanna, Taiken developed a new style, eliminating the lines and concentrating on soft, blurred polychromes.
However, such a cutting-edge technique was severely criticized by other traditional painters. His style, which was called "Mourou-tai(Blurred style)" (which nowadays exactly depicts his painting's character), meant the lack of energy and vitality sarcastically. Today, these artworks are yet simple but powerfully giving you a sense of space and wonderment, a feeling a musical symphony of silence. Reminiscent of John Cage’s ‘The Silent Piece’ which was a composed sound piece in 1952, for any instrument or combination of instruments, the score instructs the performer not to play their instrument during the entire duration of the piece throughout the three movements.
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When looking through her practice or latest work, Layla is really fighting with the process of reduction and stripping back. Many artists' contemporaries from Picasso’s Bull line drawings to Modernist Marcel Duchamp ‘Fountain’, was brought back to nothing, apart from how to re-encounter an object.
Joanna’s work is dreamy, refined and subtle, never simple, a reduced technique, like japanese watercolour painting or hand rendered letterforms, take a lifetime to master. I look forward to seeing how she takes this work on a new journey through the tips of this commercial digital mountainous world.
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