work on paper     

Artist Statement

Lise Lemeland

My work comes from an ongoing fascination with pattern in its many forms and related theoretical discourses. I am captivated by the worlds of color and pattern revealed in the decorative arts from other cultures. Indian, Turkish, South and Central American carpets provide the structural foundation for the paintings. European lace, embroidery and Japanese kimonos are some of the sources of imagery and repetitive motifs, and have become an integral part of the patterning in my most recent work. In a broader sense, my painting is a response to certain preconceptions about decoration. By using overtly ornamental designs, I am embracing the decorative, making it both content and form.

Many of my paintings have animal elements such as snakes and dragons that construct another layer of pattern. The dragon drifts in and out of art and mythology of the past and present like a recurring dream. It has enormous power as a symbol and yet stays nebulous in form and in meaning. Dragons of the West are with few exceptions evil, hideous creatures symbolic of spiritual desolation and the dark side. Eastern dragons are the complete antithesis: benevolent, elegant, revered demi-gods symbolic of spiritual or meteorological import and often immortality. In China, the dragon originates from a matriarchal society and is closely associated with the serpent. While it is moody and unpredictable, it also represents creation; and in both eastern and western cultures it is tied to knowledge and wisdom. The dragon in my paintings is a metaphor for this duality of spirit. It is self-referential, symbolizing the internal and external conflicts of being human.

By combining and recontextualizing these various images, lace, and textile patterns, my intent is to generate new meaning. At its heart, this work is about beauty and embracing decoration. It is about visual splendor and the celebration of pattern and color.