A very physical, very energetic and very direct interpretation of Japanese calligraphy became part of Sandra Lerner's painting approach at an early point in her career. Now, in a new body of work she further explores calligraphy's potential by combining vigorous gestural marks with evocative fields of subtle color. It is an approach that seems to heighten the bold power of the configuration. It also calls attention to the way Lerner investigates calligraphy's expressive force rather than its traditional cognitive associations. The brushes designed for calligraphy are important to her work, however, for they hold a substantial amount of pigment and allow the development of both heavy and thin marks with no interruption to the primary creative gesture.
The gestures deliver a spirited spontaneity and freshness. Intentionally, and in an edgy way, this contrasts with the textured, stone-like thick impasto surface of sand, grit and collaged materials that imply a geological continuum with an ancient, storied past. The sensed weight and substance expands the types of physicality present in each work. In addition, there are paintings embellished with marble dust that produce a mysterious luminosity. Some surfaces hold ghost-like echo images with characteristics of loose stains ("Wind Song") or structural elements ("Wave"), introducing more visual richness as they activate space.
The dominant, highly charged calligraphic shapes appear to be floating above the crusty surface, adding to the complex spatial experience. This strengthens the feeling that Lerner's painting approach makes otherworldly discoveries possible, and further underscores the validity of her continuing investigations.