The Drawers - Jodi Panas   Commentary written by Julie Oakes

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Beauty & Obsession

Jodi Panas looks right through you, in the manner of the expression. She puts on x-ray vision and then reveals what she has seen - on paper. Her skeletal frameworks are not the way we are used to imagining it, holding our body up, protecting the organs and then padded out with flesh and skin. The skeleton is pared down to a few pivotal bones that have a tenuous role as either support or protector. They are further inhibited in strength by the oil that has been applied to the drawing which makes the paper transparent so that where the bones cross over the oil, they are rendered more delicate. An exposure to light from behind the drawing gives an even more transparent effect. There is another aspect, that of the handling of the line, that brings a brittle quality along with it. The outlines are sharp and within each bone there's another structure that supports the bone itself, drawn with crosshatched or meticulously descriptive lines.

The suspension of a head, or the added confusion of a body that is not naturally part of this brittle framework, brings a new psychological dimension into the drawing. The question of identity now arises, the suspicion of fraud, of trickery creeps into the picture - a butterfly does not have a skeleton, the dangling, primitively executed head hanging from the scythe-like bone resembles a shamanic ritual instrument, a bird appears to have a skeleton made up of feathers. Despite the out-of sync revelations, there is a familiarity in the strange juxtapositions, as if a cosmic link has been made between the outside world and the subconscious.

It is this subliminal psychological reference that pushes the drawings from a classification of illustration into one of high art. The power to probe the mind of the viewer and strip bare some of the artifice to reveal the fragility of our human psyche is part of the structure that Jodi Panas' psychological narrative hangs upon. Unwilling to rest with the superficial or natural configuration, Panas draws a new framework on which to hang her voodoo. It's white magic because the end result is beautiful, sophisticated and illumined.

Copyright 2006,  Headbones Gallery, The Drawers