“these works pay homage to the immaterial presence of the spiritual realm”
“Her new works espouse uninhibited freedom and joy in their creation. Glowing and sensuous, these works pay homage to the immaterial presence of the spiritual realm.”
Linda Ledet, Gulf Coast Magic II, 2010. Oil on canvas, 24″ x 30. Courtesy of the artist.
Linda Ledet, A Place for Us, 2010. Oil on linen, 48″ x 48. Courtesy of the artist.
In most religions, Heaven is a realm, either physical or transcendental, in which people who have died continue to exist in an afterlife. Artists such as Dante have tried to depict and analyze its structure; others have attempted to capture the light that emanates from it, such as Monet. Coming down the historical pipeline, Linda Ledet offers a new voice to this transcendent realm. With rapturous and masterful brushwork her work ranges from the intensely colorful to the muted and quiet. Glancing through her portfolio, one notices how golden washes, crimson drips, and delicate marks create soft, creamy fields of lush pigment. Using nature as a springboard, her work creates a sense of interconnectedness between the physical and the spiritual. Collectively, her wild, contemporary works are vivid, expressionist paintings that communicate profound feelings of joy, love, hope, and compassion.
Dante described Heaven as concentric rings with varying levels of significance. He remarks “round us bent a glowing girdle, living, conquering, that more than all it showed could sweetly sing, making itself a circling crown, and we its centre….down from Mid-Heaven, through all its splendors, came separate intense, a tiny orb of flame, that when it reached her, ringed her round complete, a crown of light, pulsating.” This sense of splendor and heavenly majesty is evident in works such as Gulf Coast Magic II. A sun-baked field of gold, ochre, and reds contain partially hidden small boats. Taking a cue from Claude Monet’s masterpiece Impression, Sunrise (1872), this work veers close to a total abstraction as the boats fade into obscurity. Initially, the bright colors of Impressionist canvases were shocking for eyes accustomed to the more sober colors of Academic painting. Monet was the central figure in the Impressionist movement that transformed French painting in the second half of the nineteenth century. With a vast oeuvre, he depicted the rich landscape and leisure activities of Paris and its inhabitants. Similarly, Ledet paints her natural surroundings and the immediacy of her everyday life. In the upper right hand corner of this work, the sun and its reflection burns with a dynamic light. Dripping in upward fashion are ochre and yellows, set against orangey-red stains. Speckled yellowish-white daubs create intense highlights. The impressive characteristic of Impressionist paintings is that visual reality loses its corporality and thus becomes only an appearance, an impression. Eventually, the process of perception becomes intertwined with the image created and is no longer an accurate representation of what is observed. In this work Ledet is using another medium altogether: light made visible. Ledet has an intense career developing. She studied under master painters including Wolf Kahn, Kevin MacPherson, Carolyn Anderson, John Cosby, Dan Gerhartz, Robert Johnson, Kim English, Tom Browning and Ken Backhaus. The legacy of plein air painting has given her an overwhelming appreciation for nature and likewise her creator. Ledet relates, “My life, spirit and art are intertwined. For me, art is all about connection – to God, myself, others and creation. Painting is much more a response to Divine Love and Grace rather than a mere rendition of a subject onto a canvas. The artwork begins to beat with its own heart.” This pulse that beats within her artwork is contagious. Works like A Place For Us creates a sense of ecstatic joy and heartfelt longing. Nestled into an orange-magenta shallow hillside rests a small purple, yellow, and black home. The field it overlooks disintegrates into stains and flutters of orange, yellow, and blue. These marks rest in the center of the canvas and criss-cross like a flock of birds. In complex patterns of separation, alignment, and cohesion flocks of birds remain tightly knit together. This work suggests a sense of quiet unity evidenced by the isolated house, amidst a raucous display of cacophony evidenced by the swirling brushstrokes surrounding it.
Linda Ledet, Gulf Coast Magic I, 2010. Oil on Canvas, 24″ x 30. Courtesy of the artist.
Perhaps her most significant work to date, Gulf Coast Magic I, is the synthesis of her varying impulses. This work was painted after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and is dedicated to the beauty and wonder of the coast and spirit of the American people despite trying circumstances. In this glowing abstraction, a purple-blue band that narrows into drips horizontally bisects a yellow-orange sweeping expanse. It causes a powerful rupture in the picture plane, abstracting the work completely. Without a reference to a landscape or seascape, as in her other works, this painting becomes a formal balancing act of color, shape, and composition. With its passageways of varying hues it reads as peaks, valleys, or the edge of a coastline. Upon closer inspection, I noticed two opposing perspectives in this work. On the one hand, this work could very well be an aerial view of Gulf Coast Magic II. Yet, in this case we are floating above the earth’s surface as a sort of ascended being, peering down into the depths of material existence. Conversely, we could picture ourselves as ascended beings flying closer to the sun. As we arrive nearer, as an Icarus-like figure, we sense the heat and all consuming brightness of the sun, blocking out anything else, we are bathed in golden light. In either case, it is compelling.
Linda Ledet’s work oscillates between landscape and abstract, creating a unique style of painting all her own. Her new works espouse uninhibited freedom and joy in their creation. Glowing and sensuous, these works pay homage to the immaterial presence of the spiritual realm.