The Gift of Clouds

Patrice Donohue at Shift through April 27, 2019

Night Clouds

Peggy Murphy

In dramatic contrast from her previous paper and ink constructions, Patrice Donahue set forth with paint and canvas, neither parameters nor intention to guide her, and discovered, or as she so aptly puts, “was given clouds.” In her current exhibit Reappearance, she presents a collection of transcendent cosmic skies–deep pulsating night skies, gauzy coastal skies and slice of heaven skies. Skies filled with clouds.

In her artist statement Donahue writes “clouds are part of an endless, reciprocal exchange between the heavens and the earth”. As transcendent as the skies in these may be, Donahue makes clear that clouds are the subject matter.

Donahue covers her canvas with clouds. But with these clouds there is an opening to the blue beyond. In a series of three paintings, Horizon, Beach and Endless Clouds dense clouds stack up in horizontal layers with ribbons of blue beyond. In another, a whisper of blue show through a scrim of hazy clouds. In “Clouds 1” the clouds part like a seam and the deep blue of “Night Sky 1” rips open to a blackness beyond. “Night 2 “sky is a vortex of painted stokes with a suggestion of something within. This dialog between earth and sky, sometimes tumultuous sometimes calm, captivates and connects us. Two narrow pieces stand in contrast to the larger ski painting. One is a strong metallic green the other a deep blue. Their strong vertical orientation suggests guardians or talisman of this earth and sky dialogue

Curiously all the works all have a vertical rectangular orientation, like doors. These paintings seem to act as portals–something to step through and enter–a beckoning towards something unknown, something hopeful.

Donahue may have shaken up her method of expression, choosing bright colors, straight forward imagery, and retinal rather than tactile sensation. But the deceiving lightness of this new work will continue to invoke contemplation and connection with her audience.