Joseph Samuelson Artist's Statement
Some of these paintings are from a series that I began while teaching in Pontlevoy, France. The others are from a series begun near Montespertoli, in the Italian countryside south of Florence. Pontlevoy is a small town in the Loire Valley that has an agrarian economy mixed with an architectural history of more than a thousand years. (There are a few Roman ruins nearby.)
These paintings were begun as abstractions of the buildings and landscapes within close proximity. It seems that whatever the source of the inspiration, the paintings have a life of their own. It is a language that develops once you begin to paint and put one brush stroke next to another. Everything is a response to what is on the canvas, so no matter how much the original source is the beginning, it is not the end.
Joyce Cary, the Irish novelist, described it best. "How lovely the stuff is when you’ve just put it down. While it’s still all alive before it dies and sinks and fades. Paint. Lovely paint."
He goes on to describe the struggle to make a painting, and it is that struggle that I am attempting. These paintings all have the essence of a place, but if you look closely you would see that I changed what is before me. I edited the natural world because of the logic of the canvas. Sometimes it is with forms expanded or deleted, sometimes it is a subtle change of color. But always it is within the confines of what seems to make, for me, a better painting. It is best to remember that art sometimes describes in ways that words can't.
Though a couple of works are inspired by towns in the vicinity, all were begun in Pontlevoy or Tuscany and finished at my studio in Stillwater.
Joseph Samuelson can be contacted at 651-492-3877 or at