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Issue 45 Artist Statement

Tatana Kellner

After many decades of working primarily in installation and artists’ books, I returned to painting. The directness of painting has allowed me to delve into the subject with more truth and immediacy, concentrating on the emotional relationships between humans and their environment, and how we take care of each other.

The cover paintings of this issue of BLR are from my series titled Apart. They were created during the pandemic, contemplating the new normal in the age of Covid-19. The demonstrations after the murder of George Floyd inspired an explosion in the scale of my work—from a place of quietness and stillness to the promise of an engaged citizenry expressing frustration, as well as hope and aspiration to create a more inclusive and just society.

My work reflects on the ever-changing nature of information we are presented with and the unrelenting pace of contemporary life. This atmosphere of urgency focuses intensely on the present, but as one event supersedes another, they blend together to form a fragmented narrative.

The images I work with emerge out of an emotional logic, using an organic and intuitive approach, starting with a photograph or an abstract color shape. I consider the disjointedness of the imagery and wonder how the disparate forms might relate to each other in a cohesive composition. This mirrors, in my mind, what is happening in our community.

As an immigrant from communist Czechoslovakia and the daughter of Holocaust survivors, I see the world as an observer peering in, fitting neither this world nor the one I was born into. The melancholy of abandonment, the paths not taken and the ones opening up—these guide my thoughts.

I’m interested in transforming the raw materiality of paint and images into a poetic vision, with the ultimate goal of generating a representation that is broadly accessible and meaningful. Painting is a way of processing love, desire, fear, and rage. Art is a way of understanding the world and our place within it.