Laura Tan is an American artist based in Florida, USA, whose body of work chronicles three decades of self-portraits that record how she feels and sees herself in an unfiltered, emotional response towards a specific moment in her life. Based on prolific sketches, watercolors, and photographs, Tan’s starts by staining her paintings, adding experimental textures and building up paint which she intuitively modulates and transforms by wiping and scraping into its fresh layers. She often returns to preexisting paintings, recycling and modifying them in a free and eloquent manner to enhance a personal narrative.
Tan’s enthralling self-portrait, entitled Cutoffs, draws me because of its solemn simplicity and candid honesty. Tan portrays herself without frills or conscious seduction, bluntly presenting herself as she is; a modern middle-aged woman gazing directly at the viewer, celebrating her inner strengths by de-emphasizing her gender as an identity. The relaxed pose, distressed surface textures, and sophisticated warm and cool color palette suggest the passage of time. The—to me, highly recognizable—wear and tear of gentle yet undeniable aging that slowly transforms natural beauty and grace is an inexorable process of physical and emotional change we all encounter and which isn’t easy to embrace and accept.
Laura Tan | Cutoffs | oil on linen on board | 46x32 inches or 116.75x81.25 cm.
"....finely drawn oils on linen of birds with a rough sketchbook feeling, but still polished by Miami artist Laura Tan, who acknowledged her sensitive, haunting draughtsmanship debt to the Flemish still lifes of the golden age...."
Laura Tan | Hummingbirds on Yellow | oil on linen | 10 x 7 inches or 25.4 x 17.78 cm
"BROADSHEETS PROJECTS: A collaboration by Laura Tan, artist, and Michael Hettich, poet."
View the Sweat Boradsheet Portfolio
Link to Jaffee Center for Book Arts
One of the most popular genres in art is the still life, usually a collection of mundane objects placed in an artificial setting . They have been found in Egyptian tombs , and
the classic glass bowl of fruit was first seen in Roman palaces . Northern European artists, the Flemish and the Dutch, were fascinated by optical realism and incorporated these vignettes into their religious paintings hiding symbolic messages for the illustrated elite.
It was not until the early Baroque period that the still life achieved prominence as a genre in itself. The Spanish called it " bodegones " and those were austere and dark; the Dutch thought of them as "stilleven ;" and in other Romance languages, they are referred to as "dead nat ure." After the impressionist revolution, artists found a way to express and define formal concerns through the use of still lifes. Mattise and Van Gogh are fine examples of the exploration and experimentation with this medium .
Our love affair with the beautiful hyperrealistic forms of still lifes is unending. They are charged with symbolism and remind us that life is ephemeral, but we can capture the moment . They adorn our dining room in a classic way and everyone feels good in front of them. Today, still lifes are devoid of the hermetic codes that once governed them.
They are charged with symbolism and remind us that life is ephemeral, but we can capture the moment.
Laura Tan is a master of this genre. She holds a Bachelor 's and a Master 's degree in Fine Arts from the University of Miami . Her knowledge of the subject has been well researched , and it shows in her paintings. Her technique is impeccable , her work sumptuous , and the result is the resurgence of a genre that we all love. She is an avid museum visitor and plans to steep herself in masterpieces at the Metropolitan, the Frisk, MoMA and the National Gallery in Washington during her travels this year.
When asked about the prevalence of conceptual art in galleries and museums wo rldwide , she responded "art is very idiosyncratic: there will always be people who paint, and people who will never paint . Influences on taste can be generated, but the market place is ephemeral."
Tan's work is present in both private and public collections, and has been exhibited in some of our most cherished institutions. She is a lecturer and a teacher, a great artist and a keeper of one of the most significant historical canons. Few artists can achieve this level of perfection for all to enjoy.
Laura Tan | Still Life with Stag | oil on linen | 36 x 60 inches or 91.44 x 152.4 cm
© 2016 Laura Tan