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The world created in my paintings is a window into the realm of human spirituality. I utilize a process of layering which exposes ambiguous elements. This allows the observer to continue the exploration of meaning. Representations on the canvas surface may suggest references to Classical Greek architecture and mythology, especially to Danae and the golden rain or Perseus and Andromeda. Another avenue of interest refers to the poem “Dusk is an Illusion” – the golden hour when we feel the intensity of the moment – the meeting of light and dark. I have developed a personal taste and sense for color and texture from my travels around the world. Experiencing other cultures and environments creates passion, mystery and sensuality. This richness and freedom, while also referring to the human connection, brings about an interplay with the depth and vastness of the world.

Visual Integrity and the Atemporal Challenge

32” x 22” mixed media/canvas
Golden Rain #9

The artist today is both blessed and cursed with hundreds of choices, not only from our own time, but from the past. Present currents and past styles have collapsed into a timeless stew, sabotaging stylistic periodization. To make matters more complicated, with so many historic styles looming in the background of our visual memory, and the loss of a progressive Avant-garde in this post-modern age, how does the artist escape the trap of nostalgia and cliche?

For Ruth the answer to this dilemma is not to turn away from the problem but to face it directly. Her art clearly asserts the notion that if we live in an atemporal age then it is time to tap the wealth of styles available, mold them into a unique language, and use that new language to address both important aesthetic and social issues. Ruth asserts the idea that confronting questions of both personal and social import is what gives humanity to art. And the range of themes she explores is truly astounding, ranging from examining assumptions related to female sexuality in contemporary society to deconstructing perceptions of nature and humanity in the modern world.

She explores these themes in a variety of ways, including drawing on and reinterpreting Greek mythology, investigating the male gaze throughout the history of art, and anatomizing the methods of aesthetic presentation in modern stylistic vocabularies. Some of her paintings are almost abstract and explore these ideas through symbols embedded in the gesture of the brush. Other paintings allow recognizable figures to emerge and evoke her interrogation of human perception. In the end, the world she creates on canvas, with or without recognizable representations, provides a window into the realm of human joy, suffering, and spirituality.

Guy McClain, Art Historian

artist Ruth Kjaer in her Easthampton, Massachusetts studio
artist Ruth Kjaer in her Easthampton, Massachusetts studio

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