Kurt Piazza, Curator
Josette Urso, a Florida native and current resident of New York City, draws inspiration from the “places” that surround her. Her recent oil paintings and ink drawings explore the notion of place through what the artist refers to as “organic fragments of experience”. These fragments, as illustrated in Urso’s earthy palette and lively brushwork represent the “traces” of both everyday life, as experienced within the dynamic city of New York and countries and states recently traveled; Cambodia, Thailand, Taiwan, Spain, Ireland, Connecticut, Arizona, Vermont and Maine, with the bustling metropolitan areas and verdant landscapes of these diverse environs serving as the impetus. Within these paintings Urso offers the viewer a perception of the landscape as contradiction and the opposite, communicating empty and full, darkness and light.
Urso’s exploration of both landscapes and city scenes derives primarily from her travels and subsequent interest in landscape painting. In the 1990’s while traveling in both Arizona and Spain, Urso began painting out of doors. By the summer of 2000, while in residency in Ireland, her landscape paintings had at once matured and evolved, revealing a distinct understanding of her surroundings. She asserts: ”the Irish landscape had a huge impact on my work and literally changed my life as a painter”. Returning to New York in 2001, Urso extended her experimentation with the landscape to the urban environment of the city and thus created a series of paintings from the rooftop of her apartment building. She says of the paintings from this period: “they are extrapolations-internalized responses to the external surroundings”. Engaged in executing two bodies of work simultaneously, Urso’s collages and watercolors are a product of her time in the studio and the oil paintings and ink drawings are created out of doors. For Urso, these two distinct bodies of work are connected conceptually, in both she absorbs extensive amounts of information that she then filters, synthesizes and condenses. Urso explains, “in all my work, I comment on the “live” qualities of experience-that of receiving too much from all directions”.
Within the intimate scale of her paintings and drawings, Urso offers what she calls “the spirit evident in all things”. In her oil paintings and ink drawings, Josette Urso communicates both the experience of her everyday life in the metropolis of New York City and captures the uniqueness in the landscape of the many places she travels. Merging these two worlds into a body of work that manifests the beauty, energy, and spirit of all that she surveys, Josette Urso reflects all that she sees and it is indeed a splendid vision.