Jane Whitaker


My work is influenced by particular landscapes, both natural and man-made and my own passion for paint itself. The use of colour, structure, movement, balance and expressive marks are crucial to me in order to reach an emotional satisfaction with the whole. The work is complete when all the desired elements are fulfilled. By using a feeling for place, an experience can be absorbed either by sketching or photography. This is often translated emotionally and adjusted in order that the painting will be a valid entity in itself, rather than a representation of something else. Although the painting starts by relating very directly to either sights seen or experiences felt, it then goes off at a tangent that one can’t really articulate. The Abstract Expressionist’s dictum of “movement without restraint, colour without outline and emotion without reality” is very relevant to me. The shape of the paint support, defining the extremity of the work, contains the painting and is part of the whole. Because an idea needs to be worked through, it frequently evolves into a series. The series then becomes the whole. It is hoped that the manipulation of materials, the liveliness of linear and painterly marks and the heightened tension between lines and shapes are communicated successfully for the viewer to enjoy.

Jane Whitaker

Exhibited at Ace Space from 17 March – 9 June 2012

Newbury Weekly News arts review

Painter Jane Whitaker works within the genre of expressive abstraction, but the ideas always stem from reality. Hints of figuration sometimes remain, with the paintings’ titles referencing the real.

She explores colour, movement and rhythm, with the importance of materiality inherent in the painterly qualities of her work. Working in oils and acrylic, colour is flat, layered or opaque. Her palette is strong, often acid, yet sometimes alchemically and paradoxically tempered within the overall composition. Line and shape sometimes coalesce and harmonise; at other times they seem to exist in a compositional tension, resisting an easy structure and balance.

The most pleasing works on show are explorations of colour in which abstraction has been pushed most strongly. True to the tradition of abstract expressionism, in these large unframed paintings the paint extends beyond the two-dimensional surface and continues around the edge of the canvas: the composition is unframed and free. Night Lights No. 1 comprises flat colour fields in vibrant blues, yellows and fiery orange-reds. Orange and Green does what it says on the tin: gestural amorphous swirls interact with more resolved conventional shapes, the paint layered, overpainted or translucent. In  Exploiting Green, movement thrusts upwards from the bottom corner of the canvas to meet multi-coloured linear motifs. In Allotments, the source idea has been transmuted into a composition of greens studded with abstracted forms. In The Rough and the Smooth, a sharp-edged plane of turquoise pushes into a sombre substratum of dark blues, reds and blacks; the bands of colour in Grande Plage clearly reference the painting’s source.

The paired vertical paintings Frosty Mornings Nos. 1 and 2 relate to one another in format, composition and palette. Abstracted forms with an unmistakeable landscape provenance interweave and push upwards in joyous compositions suggesting the imminent return of spring. Movement is an important element: The Silver Chain of Sound is both shot through and unified by a powerful, weaving, vertical ribbon of pale colour. At the Edge of the Forest is a more muted composition in both palette and technique: here gentle colour is smudged and overlaid, creating a surface you feel you can peer through, the whole work calming and mesmeric.

Consequences No. 2 is a vibrant collage of pleasing materiality in sizzlingly hot hues. The work is at once both compositionally unified and disunited. Six equally sized square compositions are mounted together in a frame. Each seems to simultaneously harmonise with and repel its neighbours, seeking to retain its own compositional identity and deny the wholeness of the whole.

The exhibition can be seen by all those attending Ace Space events, and by arrangement with the artist (www.janewhitaker-painter.com). It runs until the end of May.


Jane Whitaker’s website is http://www.janewhitaker-painter.com/