Nolan Winkler Captures A
So much of what an artist does is doing it a zillion times. Mastery, says Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers, comes after about ten years or 10,000 hours devoted to the thing. Nolan Winkler’s show at Rio Bravo Fine Art is way beyond the first decanting of ten-year-mastery. She must have put ten years each into the separate elements of composition, touch/ texture and color and then another ten into mixing them into complex or simplified bouquets.
Here is young exuberance flashing into spring light. Here is wizened marshaled strength walking through dimmed winter.
In a word, Nolan Winkler has range—a five-octave range--a cellar full of fine wine—a fleet of ships at her command.
Countless artists have said they do art to see what they and the world are about. They become as they do. These are the process and expressionist artists who do not intellectualize. They are the feelers and doers. They are also the hardest to write about, inciting adjectives and metaphors.
Joseph Campbell, author of Hero with a Thousand Faces, made a distinction. He said the male part of our androgynous selves travels an external labyrinth and in that way, buffeted by the world, learns about himself, if he bothers to reflect. More likely an organic knowing, not an analytical summation, is at the end of the journey.
Campbell said the female part, with the mystery of creation already within, travels an internal labyrinth. Odysseus goes on a 20-year journey and comes back to Penelope, who spun and re-spun a garment, a labyrinthine journey from home.
Winkler is more Odysseus than Penelope. Asked what the recurring circles mean to her, made using cut potatoes as a printing device, it was obviously the wrong and therefore telling question. She said “you could try to come up with something,” but the non-meaning, the blankness, the non-referential quality is why she uses circles. That is Odysseus traveling with no-mind—just being.
Many of the works have flowers, which are one of the most seminal symbolic objects on the planet—with so many references and feelings attached a fugue state or similar no-mind results, just as with the circles.
The flora and fauna are non-subject subject matter on which Winkler can riff and spin her masterful drawing, texture and color. The living line, the sense of traveling, the mood of seasons come to the fore. Winkler captures a unicorn—ephemera—her loose glorious dexterity and color calls it into being just shy of naming it, keeping the spark of creation on the canvas.
Two favorites, and then I leave you to wander among the works. To the left of the door are six works on paper, hung together. They work as a whole and individually. The theme is ‘garden.’ This is Winkler composing with all elements, holding six steeds at once by their reins going very fast.
“I Wake With Wonder, I Wake at Half Past Four,” a painting that delivers on the title, is a marvelous analogue of grey blue and dawn yellow, impossible to describe—but not to experience.