Haley Josephs talks to Austin Lee about her new paintings

Haley Josephs, Mehetabel, 2018, oil on canvas, 72 x 60 inches

Brooklyn-based painter makes enigmatic paintings of powerful, archetypal women, often engaged in private activities or rituals that can be both disturbing and absurd. Painted on black canvases, her new images feature rich, saturated color, as if the landscapes are on fire, or infused with the dramatic light of toxic sunsets. On the occasion of her second solo show at Deli Gallery in LIC, “When Men are Fairy Tales in Books Written By Rabbits,” Two Coats of Paint invited Josephs to do an interview with the fellow painter of her choice, and she selected . Lee is also a figurative painter, and his last NYC solo show, “Nothing Personal,” was at  in Tribeca.

Haley Josephs, installation at Deli.

Austin Lee:
How does time function in you500彩票网手机版官网r paintings?

Haley Josephs:
Hopefully it stops.

AL:
That response surprised me. Often with you500彩票网手机版官网r work I will think about what it would be like to be inside the head of person in you500彩票网手机版官网r painting. That always feels really active to me. What is a fairy tale?

HJ:
It’s not the same thing as a myth, which aim is to teach or reveal a lesson. Fairy tales are grasping at a world that can never be. Maybe a painting is a fairy tale? It’s a reflection of our world, but with a spin on it that makes it forever unattainable. Like a bug preserved in crystal, you500彩票网手机版官网 can’t get to it without breaking it all apart. What is reality? What is the dream? Similar questions…

Haley Josephs, Whatever Can Die is Beautiful, 2018, oil on canvas, 40 x 40 inches.

AL:
Yeah I definitely think a painting can be that. A mix between understanding reality and hinting at the unknown. When I look at you500彩票网手机版官网r paintings I see the presence of people even if they aren’t depicted directly. I also get a strong feeling of a person’s inner mental world when they are visible. I’m curious about how you500彩票网手机版官网 represent invisible ways that humans exist. Can you500彩票网手机版官网 talk about that?

HJ:
That’s hard to talk about because I think the reason for that occurence is rooted in my own psychology. In my own sensitivity as a feeling human being. I won’t go into analyzing myself, but maybe a way of answering you500彩票网手机版官网r question is to say that the emotional tone of the painting is so important. I work hard to capture that- maybe that’s what is coming through- even with the absence of a body. I’m speaking through it (the paint!).

Haley Josephs, The Lifting of the Veil, 2018. oil on canvas, 72 x 44 inches.

AL:
Your older paintings felt like past or future tense and you500彩票网手机版官网r new paintings seem to deal more with present tense- in the act of something. Can you500彩票网手机版官网 talk about that at all?

HJ:
I think of my paintings as being post apocalyptic. Maybe they’ve moved to feeling slightly more in present time to you500彩票网手机版官网 because in a way I think we are in the apocalypse now… so very soon to being post-apocalyptic. They are in the act of something, whether it might be dealing with a mental trauma or overcoming that. As they move through their landscape they are also moving through an emotional landscape internally.

AL:
The new paintings have distinct color palette. They feel like night paintings illuminated by fire. A different attitude and mood from some of you500彩票网手机版官网r previous work. Would you500彩票网手机版官网 agree with that?

HJ:
Yes. I’ve recently been painting on all black. I like the effect of that because it makes me work deeper to bring forth the image. I also paint sunsets and sunrises a lot- so monumental. I like to bring that image out from its beginning which is darkness.

Fire is another character, yes. To me it’s symbolic of power and resilience.

Haley Josephs, My Freedom to be Sick is My Teacher, 2018, oil on canvas, 40 x 30 inches.

AL:
What inspires you500彩票网手机版官网 to paint?

HJ:
It’s the only tool I have to speak my language. I think through painting I am seeking truth. Painting, when its good, is the best truth revealer. I’m trying to reveal truth, and more specifically, the absolute essential need in our culture of a feminine consciousness. It is feeling-based and intuitive, as opposed to fact based.

Haley Josephs, Levitating Phoenix, 2017, oil on canvas, 96 x 72 inches

AL:
What do you500彩票网手机版官网 want from a painting?

HJ:
That’s really difficult to say … what would you500彩票网手机版官网 say?
I can only think of this:
~There lives in me an image
Of all that I should be
Until I have become it
My heart is never free~

Maybe I’m trying to set myself free- to see clearer. So I can move forward in my seeking of truth.

AL:
Well, I think you500彩票网手机版官网 said it pretty well. I don’t think I can follow that. What kind of mental space are you500彩票网手机版官网 in when working?

HJ:
When I’m at my best, I’m in a trance.

“,”  Deli Gallery, Long Island City, Queens, NY. March 30 through May 6, 2018.

Artist’s Bio (from the gallery website): Haley Josephs was born in 1987 in Seattle, WA. She received her BFA from Tyler School of Art at Temple University in 2011 and her MFA from Yale University in 2014. Josephs has exhibited locally and internationally. She was included in Painting Forward at Thomas Erben Gallery, NY in 2016 Broke Baroque at Sanctuary Projects, PA in 2014, and Inaugural at 321 Gallery, NY in 2014. Josephs received the Alfred L. MacDougal and Nancy Lauter Scholarship in 2014. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

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