Profile Type: Artist

In an interview, Alexandra Rozenman spoke of, “[t]he longing for a common, known space” as a key to her imagery. She goes on to say that she wants the viewer to enter her painting like an actor whose identity is subsumed by a role.
In Air Water Fire, Rozenman’s recent series of paintings, the shared theatrical space is an aqueous atmosphere that resembles a pond or flooded earth. It is a precinct of dreams somewhere between liquid memory and the solid remnants of reality at the water’s edge. There is something oddly familiar about the setting. It is the primeval watering hole, Narcissus’s pool of endless reflection, and the looking glass through which we can pass into another dimension.
Recurring through the paintings are a cast of animals: a variety of birds, horses, and a small swarm of flies. Forms suggesting bivalves appear closed shut or open with staring eyes. Emerging from the water are trees, flowers, and ovoid shapes. There are as well ladders, stairs and arched windows that are opaque or become open portals. These elements seem to offer an escape from our immersion, as we float in the paintings between one plane of existence and another.
Narratives are never completed in these works, only hinted at. Cryptic as the paintings may be, their emotional atmosphere of melancholy magic is clear. The shifting fields of browns and grays, and subdued blues and greens are fired by vivid swaths of color, ostensibly reflected forms whose identity is never revealed.
Rozenman’s ongoing series of drawings constitute a stripped down vision of the self, an analogue to the paintings’ lush reverie of loss. The drawings are wiry renderings of the artist’s inner life, psychologically acute, and by turn painful and poetic. Although they are mere lines filled with and surrounded by looming space, the humans and animals are insistently, uncomfortably present. The figures exist like bare armatures of feelings, attenuated and unadorned except when enhanced by a wash of watercolor.
The figures in the drawings interact with and at times are partially comprised of objects, such as buckets, cages or chairs. They are often partially disembodied – becoming just heads or eyes. Despite these extreme states, the people often convey a feeling of patient bemusement, as if they are at home in the unfamiliar version of reality in which they find themselves. As in the paintings, the beauty that the artist wrests from the displacement and disintegration before us attests to her inclination to both mourn life’s fragility and to savor its cherished memory.
John Mendelsohn

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