As the poet must give up control of meaning to the reader, so the abstract painter must let go – rejoice! – in happy (mis)interpretations of her viewers. After seeing Joan Mitchell’s large canvases (seen here in detail), I offer these animated, poetic (mis) sightings.
JP: Amid the roiling violence of energy, who is always there: the angel. Everything is doubled, rage and love, despair and endurance. In modern life, paradoxical Baudelaire is never far from us.
But no, the swing of this angel’s knee is too delicious, and her hair part of the motion in and for itself. Lo, Eve! The wind is kicking up. The pale translucence winding behind her – the pink snaky squirm – is a minor thing.
Joan Mitchell Title: Sunflowers
JP: How radiant, the zucchini flowers! Light oranging the petal, sluices of stem, the tremble, soft pale follicles. How does she paint with fine ground dust of pollen? Swallows of light, collapsible wet creases, petal bells, to be smeared, stained, psalmlike.
Joan Mitchell Title: Minnesota.
JP: What did you expect to shower down? That it’s petals and pollen, cream mint, manna – that it sits like Bernini’s mystical St. Teresa of Avila, gold showering from the upper right corner – only means it’s been here before.
Joan Mitchell Title: Rivière
Joan Mitchell, “I carry my landscapes around with me,” David Zwirner Gallery, New York.