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"Depths of the Surface"
By Michael Welzenbach
Washington Post
March 15, 1985

"To have a talent is not enough for you; one must also have your permission to have it, eh, my friends?
–Nietzsche, "Beyond Good and Evil"

Joanne Kent . . . stares at the painting on her studio wall. . . . The painting is a massive affair in heavy white monochrome, dominated by a rigid triangle and bisected by bold, tape-edged lines. The paint has been so heavily applied that the canvas sages under the weight of it.The surface of the painting has been distressed, scumbled and gouged—in places scraped away to reveal almost watercolor-like underpainting.

The overall effect is like the ancient weathered wall of some Egyptian tomb. Or the cracking plaster wall on which it hangs. The painting broods—it is about tragedy.

But Kent does not describe her paintings in terms of tragedy. She describes them in terms of mystical allusions, and gives them whimsical titles such as "Love and Stuff" and "Cephren" (the middle pyramid at Giza).

. . . Joanne Kent's paintings are powerful and painterly. They demand attention. Stacked against the walls, amost entirely blocking the narrow corrridor leading to the bedroom, they are almost overwhelming: depressing. But liberated from the ranks to hang solo, they become intriguing, enigmatic. It is their surfaces, more than anything else, that catch the eye. The sculptural effect is enhanced by subtle shading and coloring. Some are reminiscent of Jasper Johns' "Alphabet" series. This impression is reinforced by Kent's use of graphite pencil over the dried paint—vigorous scrawls that could be cryptic writing.

.. . . Joanne Kent's first one-person show opens tomorrow at the Anton Gallery, Capitol Hill.