Rochelle Feinstein


I have used words in my paintings on a few occasions. They are always names of people or places, words used by other artists, and, more recently, phrases taken from cartoon captions. In other "words," I don't invent language but rather, generate paintings through these other scraps. These words are fragmentary features of common speech, and while they can be spoken, they are not quite yet a language. In and of themselves, they are not adequately sensible. The grammar, string, or context needed to glue them into a coherent whole is absent.

I use them in this way so that my paintings can be urged, even coerced, into providing the grammar. My understanding of abstract painting is as a generous language, reconstructing and accommodating itself (slowly, perhaps) to interferences from outside its own presumed structureŚmuch like English. Words have the speed of comprehension and visual urgency that is absent in painting, or at least the kind of painting convention that I am interested in working with. The gap between the visual language is probably what initially drew me to pair them.

A dangerous attraction, I find my dialogue, in practice, vacillating between yes, you can...no, you can't. Of course, I want to win the dare. The challenge is to fuse the word into a completely visual and material experience of a painting, and, hopefully, create the equivalent of Franglish, in my case, Paintglish. I do believe that painting language has soft boundaries. I am intrigued by the possibilities of using words as elastically as paint, while employing their demotic power to be concrete, metaphoric, and swift.


Rochelle Feinstein lives and works in New York City. She is represented by the Max Protech Gallery and is on the faculty of the School of Art, Yale University.

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