Kenneth Paul Lesko Cleveland Art Gallery

Judith Brandon

Resonant Drawings

November 17th, 2017 - January 13th, 2018

Judith Brandon | Crazy in the Head | Signed & Dated Lower-Right

Ink, Charcoal & Pastel on Incised Printmaking Paper | 38 x 42 inches


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     In the time that I’ve known Judith Brandon, I’ve had the privilege to witness a coalescing of years of experimentation and honing of craftsmanship that have made her a world-class artist.

     As a curator, I often visit Judith’s studio as she works toward each new exhibition. Drawings at various stages of completion are arranged on tables and tacked to the walls of her studio. In the past, scribbled notes on scraps of paper would have accompanied her drawings—often idiosyncratic phrases without context—reminders of what she wanted to focus on, as she worked on individual drawings. These words evoked specific memories and emotions, and became the filter through which she imagined her compositions. Eventually those scraps of paper vanished, as Judith began carving her notes directly into the paper of her drawings, embedding their meaning more deeply.

     As a gallery director, I’ve had the pleasure of watching viewers experience Judith’s work in exhibitions. People are mesmerized by what they see—some with smiles on their faces, others with tears in their eyes. As viewers approach a piece, there is a sense of discovery and fascination. The power of the work reaches out to viewers at a distance, but as the viewers continue to engage, they are rewarded with the reveal of secondary imagery: animals and figures emerge from the clouds; tiny, incised cities spring up on the horizon, text becomes visible, and underlying geometry manifests within the composition.

     A mastery of drawing is evident in every piece Judith creates, but it is the way in which that mastery is used to forge a link between herself and the viewer that makes her work so exceptional. Her work has a sense of mystery and a powerful gravity, a subtle but irresistible pull that draws the viewer in and gives one a sense of being a privileged witness to epic moments in flux.

     Judith’s compositions function as emotional cyphers, resonating something primal and dreamlike that connects with the collective unconscious, pulling the viewer into the spaces she creates beyond the physical dimensions. Her work is a record of her emotions, experiences and inspirations, recorded not only in the primary imagery, but in layers within and beneath her media of ink, charcoal and pastel. Judith’s use of emotion as an intangible medium is one of the factors that make her work so compelling and unique—viewers sense that there is something to be decoded, and they are captivated.

    What is most impressive about Judith’s work is that it is consistently powerful and engaging. All of the elements are harmonized, bringing the viewer into alignment with the resonance of each piece, and giving one a sense of communion, as we are transported into higher realms of emotional and sensory experience.