Janet Snell — painter of the Great Silence

Some paintings are quiet vortexes. I don’t mean depictions of spiraling maelstroms. Rather, some paintings are an implicit swirling and blending of the emotional into the metaphysical. That vortical energy opens a different space or zone of experience for the onlooker. Painters who can do this are sort of like magicians, aren’t they?

Life is such a hectic, loud, nervous affair. Ten-thousand thoughts at once always colliding, hollering in our heads, eventually prompting some vague action. We’ll then do this or that as modes of defense against the hectoring of time.

Normality gets to have too much say; science gets to claim every-freaking-thing. But a long time ago, the conventional tree science of monkeyism turned into something stranger. Human consciousness and later Shakespeare. Something new and weird bubbled off the surface of being — the pure energy of metaphysical silence potential in floating heads. That dark energy creates eccentric space. The residue of dreams flits there, as pieces of alternate being. The gravity of imagination there warps mirrors of the obvious. Contours of discrete things — especially ourselves — become equivocal, liquid, mad with metaphysics.

Some artists are able to paint that zone of Great Silence, wherein time gets trapped and stunned into colorful shapes of enigma. Something in us, I hypothesize, requires enigma.





resized Desire



resized black sleep

Black Sleep


resized connections



resized Now Wait Just a Minute

Now Wait Just a Minute


resized Violence



resized Dark Flower

Dark Flower


I detect certain motifs recurring or threads running through Snell’s work: the familial, the traumatic, the feminist. Yet her paintings also uncover and convey more universal themes. The same fabric realizes tableaux of ancient psychological moods brushed as modern visions. I get wondrously lost, for peculiar duration, in the Great Silence of these paintings.


All images the property and copyright of Janet Snell.

Janet and her sister Cheryl (poet, novelist, short story writer) have a webpage — Scattered Light.


Posted by Tim Buck




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