Offering brief, closely-encountered narrative moments between a woman/sculpture and a ram/sheep, Wiesenfeld’s primarily large-scaled oil paintings call upon and torque the traditions of both Classical Greek art and Romanticism. Temporality, choice, and an insistent dialogue between reason and emotion (presented as two parts of the same whole) are frequent themes in Wiesenfeld’s practice. The figures exist with one another in tight quarters, cropped at odd angles, with features visible only from the neck up, and no context in the space behind them other than dark or bold color, and the strong presence of draped fabric.
Though invoking artistic traditions in which the pain of grief or the ecstasy of spirituality became fodder for humanistic gesture in stone or paint, Wiesenfeld’s works themselves inhabit a discomfiting space in which the critical distance necessary for subjective entry is disallowed. The drama of the characters and composition is amplified at every turn by narrative refusal, by the opacity of the story itself. The relationship between woman and animal is revealed in such close-up that any understanding of the particulars of the love story is inferred in the space between paintings, more than revealed in the paintings themselves. The sensual and the immovable come face to face (each character takes its turn being more flesh than stone), but without the catharsis of narrative apex, we are left unsatisfied, attempting again and again to find a way in to the story.
Each character in these paintings uses the other to try to reach beyond what they are, but of course, in the end, a sheep is a sheep, a statue is a statue, and—Wiesenfeld would argue—a painting is a painting.
Deb Klowden Mann