Jeanne Illenye is an experienced, “predominantly self-taught artist” from Michigan, USA. She creates both small and large canvases presented at her website and blog, and covers a variety of themes within the still life genre. Arguably, the most fascinating subject she explores is the series on books and watches: they are particularly appealing to me as they relate to the painter’s lateral artistic pursuits, of which there are quite a few, as you may learn from some of her blog posts. But there is one salient feature that distinguishes her artwork as a whole, and in effect makes up one of the essentials of her style: it is the uncommon, even quaint, touch of serenity and poise that permeates every piece and eventually overflows to gently sweep the viewer along.
“My paintings isolate a particular moment in time” — the artist claims, and one would have no choice but to agree; however, they do not just “isolate:” I like to think that they actually freeze time, permitting the viewer to witness the process and imprint it in their visual memory. Every painting becomes a record of its subject, a kind of a miniature visual chronicle, to be more precise. Thus, a moment may last anything from a few seconds to a few hours (and when we think of it, “moment” is indeed a very fluid term) — depending on the beholder’s inner clock and the theme. The intentional (as well as refined and aesthetically winning) references to decay and disintegration further elaborate the theme of time.
I would like to discuss one of the most explored subjects by the artist, the florals. In some ways, Jeanne Illenye’s floral pieces are the least characteristic of her style. The extreme close ups deviate from the pattern of bouquets presented at a distance so calm we ignore it; here the proximity becomes one of the active principles of the composition, one to be reckoned with, rather than dismissed as an auxiliary technical/geometrical aspect to the painting as a whole. Such proximity inevitably invites close inspection, analysis and conclusion making — every stage being inherently suffused with considerable intensity. The dark, often black backgrounds increase the tension even further.
Still, it is important to emphasize that these frictions occur within the definitive framework of global calm and control, being unable to break through and establish some kind of chaos. Though, I must admit, sometimes it feels pretty close to the verge — just another addition to that tension, this time from the aspect of formal evaluation. Overall, the florals exposed with the zoom in (botanical) effect, and the more serene ones fill in the niche to its utmost limits. The artist proves her mastery of the field by exhibiting superb technical execution, as well as by the effortless transition from one sub-genre to another, — eliciting admiration for both.