The title of the exhibit is “Saudade”, a Portuguese word that connotes nostalgia, a sense of absence and of longing not only for the past but that which never was. For centuries Portuguese sailed to the farthest reaches of the earth, separated by years from the familiar wharf-hemmed cities and sunny olive groves and vineyards of their homeland. The sea is at the same time an embodiment of creation: in the Pelasgian creation myth Eurynome, the goddess of all things, separates sky from sea before dancing lonely on its waves and giving birth to the universe [Robert Graves, “Greek Mythology”].
Continental Portugal’s Cabo da Roca is putatively the most westerly point of Europe, unless Monchique Islet, a small stub of land to the west of the Azorean island of Flores, is accepted. Flores is actually on the easterly reaches of the North American plate, so a hyper- technical interpretation would result in acceptance of the Capelinhos Volcano, on the extreme west coast of the more easterly Azorean island of Faial and actually in existence only since its eruption in 1957-58. In any event, the Saudade paintings perfectly evoke the unfolding universe at land’s end, the wild crashing arabesques of water on rock far below, the stretch of surf receding into deeper and deeper blues, the departing ships chasing old stars.
When asked why he didn’t “paint after nature”, Jackson Pollock is said to have replied “I am nature”. Julie Brookman’s work achieves this outcome. No amount of artifice could have the same result.
Julie Brookman’s exhibit entitled “Saudade”, showing at the Branner-Spangenberg Gallery from April 29 to June 5, 2017 (opening: 1:00-4:00 P.M., April 29, 2017) consists of forty-two images primarily done in encaustic, an ancient technique utilizing hot beeswax and first described by the Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder.
Ms. Brookman, who spent some years teaching scuba diving and has described “controlled chaos” as an objective in consciously utilizing media that are difficult to control, has offered the viewer a sumptuous collection of images resembling overhead views of ocean meeting land, the crashing whitecaps of surf shading off through translucent aquas into deeper blues, and in some cases the methane lakes found on Saturn’s moon Titan. A smaller grouping of images are round, with intricate variegated surfaces suggesting the icy moons of the outer planets or objects in the Kuiper Belt.