Growing up on the remote coast of Newfoundland, Jean Jewer watched gigantic icebergs float by, and wind and water whip and carve the land. Her abstract paintings testify to this first-hand experience of the raw energy, violence and beauty of Eastern Canada’s coastal landscape, demonstrating a visceral connection to the sublime drama of her environment. Weather forces parallel the way Jewer makes art; her work emerges from the canvas like a dramatic act of nature. Jewer elaborates: “This splattering liquid [of paint] resembles nature’s elements in the way that it flows, gushes, drips, and pours. These same features seem to parallel the way I make art. My paintings emerge like an act of nature: in an emotionally charged moment, I pick, I scrape, I slash, I mark my surfaces.”
Keeping body and spirit together, Jean Jewer retains us in an intertidal zone, where a high tide of feeling fluctuates with an ebb that brings us back to concrete environmental concerns. She concentrates on the visceral connection to the sublime, on the mute matter of paint, and on atavistic gestures that reach down, underneath words, to mimic vital forces. Words and things are salvaged as necessary tools in which to express concerns about the ocean’s health, but Jewer suggests that such tools can only be meaningful in an environmental discourse if they are connected to a feeling in our bones, a feeling that nature is us.- Petra Halkes is an independent curator and art critic.
Jean Jewer currently lives and works in Ottawa, but she returns often to her native Newfoundland. She received a BFA from the University of Manitoba in 1990 and continued her studies at the Ottawa School of Art, and at the Visual Arts Centre in Montreal, where she painted with Harold Klunder. Jewer has exhibited her work in many group and solo exhibitions in Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba and England. Her art can be found in corporate and private collections throughout North America and abroad.