“Two or Three Great and Simple Images”: Margaret Coe’s New “Works”
Albert Camus said an artist’s work is “a slow trek to rediscover those two or three great and simple images in whose presence your heart first opened.”
When entering the Karin Clarke Gallery to see Margaret Coe’s new exhibition called, “Works,” I feel that I am encountering her “great and simple images.” She is painting trees now, those on the east slope of Hendrick’s Hill in Eugene.
Coe is using her trees as a way to say something else to us about the human condition. These paintings are a vision of trees driven by the power at the edge of dream or spiritual passion.
Her titles alone tell us that her work has entered the Zone of Heightened Power:
“The Inside of Tomorrow.” “Birth and Death.” “Delirium .” “Old Wive’s Tale.” “The Fallen.” “Old Soul.”
Burnished gold surfaces, explosive light and dark also tell us we are witnessing the bright burning of soul as Coe paints from deep time and deep memory.
I don’t know which painting it might be for you, but when I stood in front of “The Inside of Tomorrow,” which is a tree emerging out of dark into the light, it brought inexplicable tears, grief like a storm cell moving down the valley dark into light.
I’d like you to come to this First Friday, if you can, or any time, really and find the work that calls to you. Stand in front of it for a long time. Fall into it. Maybe start with the little thistle at the foot of a big Doug Fir called “The Ancient Ones” and ask who you are in this pas de deux. Just shut out the outside world and immerse yourself in the vast worlds that open up when you give any great painting your full attention. I believe you will find yourself in the presence of those two or three great and simple images in whose presence your heart first opened.
This is Sandy Brown Jensen for KLCC.