by Jael & John Grant
Reviewed by Steven H Silver
Paper Tiger has been publishing the works of numerous artists in affordable and attractive volumes. While Jael may not be the most well-known of the artists who have been represented, the works of art selected for Perceptualistics demonstrate that she is an artist with her own vision.
Jael's art runs the gamut from the abstract surrealism of "In Se" (p.37) to the detailed art of "Changes" (p.10). Much of the art she does with pastels, such as "Stara" (p.51) give a feeling of computer modified photographs, even those they were done long before computers could be used to provide the feel that Jael captures. Perceptualistics allows the viewer to see the wide range of styles that Jael has managed to achieve in her career and her ability to determine how best to capture a feel.
Many of the paintings in the book show a sense of humor, from the wired-headed clown of "Lennon Spex" (p.10) to her interplanetary "Cops 'n' Robbers" (p.18). Furthermore, while the majority of the book is dedicated to the pastel abstracts Jael calls perceptualistics, she demonstrates an ability to capture detail in "Family Matters" (p.15) and an understanding of the use of vibrant colors in "Edmund's Inferno" (p.84) and the Creation series which ends the book (pp.106-109).
The majority of the book is taken up by her abstract perceptualistics. Many of these, such as "Wianna" (p.96) include an image which becomes more horrific in its details the longer it is viewed, while others, such as "Ex Cathedra" (p.34) are filled with a majestic sense of awe. Perhaps the one thing most lacking in the perceptualistic paintings is a sense of tranquility. All of the paintings speak to the viewer's insecurities, fears, and turbulent emotions.
Many of the perceptualistics act almost like a Rorschach test, asking the viewer to decide what shapes and images exist in the swirls that appear in the pastels. "Passage" (pp74-5) invites the reader to find objects in the viscous green forms. In most cases, Jael's titles don't help the viewer understand what she was trying to convey in her abstract portrayals. Nevertheless, they retain an emotional bond with the viewer.
The works shown in the early part of the book demonstrate the Jael can create representational art, such as the cover of Shadrach in the Furnace, Sword and Sorceress III, or Natasha (pp.22-23). However, while these works demonstrate an ability to recreate the human (and other) figures, they lack the emotional depth of her less representational art.
Jael's work is reminiscent of the art of Richard Powers, although she places more emphasis on the abstract than Powers did and less on the surrealistic. Her work, while not as eye-catching as sharp lines and images, manages to draw the viewer in as they try to figure out what, exactly, Jael has painted and why it is so magnetic.