Sara Genn | Artist statement


I Still Love You, 2010, oil on canvas, 36 x 36 inches

A painting is a monument. It serves for engagement, consideration, contemplation. It celebrates as an object of desire, a provocateur, a companion. My paintings exist to honour the act of painting by focusing on formal elements, working to achieve perfect tonal balance, harmony and rhythm. The placement of equally intense colours within color families is an effort to achieve a lyrical pleasure, vibration, tension or halation. By reducing subject matter and external references, warm and cool associations can be explored along with motif, patterning, compositional movement and saturation.

The paintings clearly present themselves as paintings, but toy with idea of bed covering, a suedey textile, a worn and stretched work of craft. In this reference I’m blurring the distinction between high art and craft, between the realms of domesticity and precious objects. I strive to create a place to “go” in my paintings, to be calm while experiencing pleasure in their rhythm, disappearances and their allusions to nature.


Jo, 2009, oil on canvas, 36 x 36 inches

In the summer of 2008 I swapped my studio in New York with an American writer who has been living in Italy for nine years. Lucca is a jewel, surrounded by the most preserved Renaissance walls in Europe. The walls are crowned with Plane trees, and because they make an ellipse around the little former Roman colony, they see every shadow, and each moment of light and darkness under Tuscany’s big dome. Included in my swap was a bicycle, (named Rilke)…Rilke made a perfect thinking, idea gathering, getaway accomplice and painting partner. I stacked those square linen boards onto the back end, along with the Italian acrylics, and set out in the evening for the delicious hours of dappling and blinding and cloud and sky pockets.

The paintings served as studies when I returned in the Fall to New York and then Vancouver to develop them into large scale colourfields. The palette got reduced and quieted, I switched to oil and amped up the brushwork, letting it take over for light raking, soaking and saturation. I had a dream to do them all in white, because riding a bicycle into sunlight blasting from low in the sky blows out the iris and flips all those contrasts.


From Perfect Places to Hang Out in the Woods Twenty, 2008, watercolour on paper

An inukshuk is a stone landmark used as a milestone by the inuit of the canadian arctic. Though varying in shape and size, most are comprised of rocks placed and balanced on top of one another, and symbolize safety, hope and friendship on the barren tundra of the canadian north.

“Obos” is a japanese term for a pile of rocks on top of one another. The obos merely says, “I was here.” A balanced, obvious rock pile, the obos is the creation of human hands. Also, if it is knocked down or desecrated, it is easily rebuilt.

It serves as a symbolic sanctuary, a place of refuge and contemplation, a hideout, a shrine, a place of new direction and a place of quieting. It is a private tribute.