Reviews & Essays
I’ve always thought of Regina Granne as working in a northern European renaissance style, concerned with special articulation more than form-diffusing light. The dropping floor planes in her studio still lifes and model studies have reminded me of Brueghel and Van Eyck; the crisp geometries of her flower studies of Mondrian( himself, a carrier of the northern European tradition.) Her cool, jewel tone palette, unsoftened by shadow, belongs to the northern climate of figuration, Granne’s vision is fiercely independent in this regard, running counter to the contemporary taste for viewing the past and present through a smoggy haze of nostalgia and melancholy. So I was surprised on a recent studio visit to find that Granne has instigated a dialogue between northern and southern style, or manner, in her latest paintings.

In this new work, open books or postcards lying on a table in the bottom foreground of each picture display reproductions of Italian renaissance masters. The geometric outlines of the books or cards are angled to provide an isometric stepping line into the upper center of the painting where a nude female model stands or lies prone on a rug on the studio floor. The ledge of the table provides a jumping-off place into the deep space of the room which, of course, returns us to the surface of the actual picture plane of Granne’s painting.

Some of the Italian reproductions depict the male nude, Michelangelo’s Adam , Bellini’s Hercules; another is of Fra Angelico’s Annunciation. A series of small oil sketches pairs various renderings of Adam with live studio model Eve. The more rounded Italianate style of the reproductions is contrasted with the muscular angularity of Granne’s model, reversing in a way the feminine and masculine aesthetic roles of “hard” and “soft.” And the reproductions themselves are extruded into a mannerist elongation through the distorting lens of perspective, that pinnacle visual achievement of Italian renaissance rationalism.

The ironies are rich and extensive, and so are the visual pleasures provided by Granne’s painting. This is a meditative art, one that unfolds over time, But then, time has always been what such art has cooperated with and celebrated.

- Stephen Westfall