Doni Silver Simons: ...Lines... at the Sherry Frumkin Gallery
3026 Airport Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90045
March 26 through May 30, 2009
A Purposeful Procession
During my studio visit of Doni’s work she expressed to me that ideally she would like to be nestled between artists Roman Opalka and Mark Rothko. Doni is a painter who is documenting her life by making marks on paper and canvas. These lines/marks are often tracked in segments of five. Opalka has been writing numbers on canvas since 1965. He continues to write numbers until he reaches “infinity”. Opalka has been noted to say “…All my work is a single thing, the description from number one to infinity. A single thing, a single life.” Mark Rothko also dealt with his paintings holistically and ventured into the realm of the sublime. He said he was only concerned with “…the expression of man’s basic emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, destiny.” Doni’s opus of script is also dealing with one lifetime. The physicality of producing her marks helps her to stay positioned, grounded and in one place. The repetitive nature of her work invigorates her unconscious. “Energizing” the unconscious was also one of Rothko’s principles. He described rituals, symbols and mythological images as the initial concepts for this provocation.
Doni has been tapping into her unconscious since she was a child. In the beginning of her summer vacations her mother would buy her a role of butcher paper to use for drawing. Doni said she would use up the whole role from front to back. Symbolically, she was unfurling her life’s work as she unrolled the butcher paper. The completed roll would be a documentation of her childhood summer. Currently, one of the pieces for her solo exhibit centers on 365, 6”x8” individually painted canvases. Each canvas provides evidence of Doni’s 2008. Last year was a leap year, so there are actually 366 spaces. However, there is one blank space for May 3 in which Doni’s religious practice precluded her daily ritual. The entire piece, named ’08-A Wall, hung in Doni’s studio, prior to being installed at Sherry Frumkin. Each painting is composed of Doni’s identifying lines in series of five. The quiet and peaceful environment of Doni’s studio is inherited by 365 canvases painted in predominately autumn and low value colors. The entire installation which is approximately 23’ wide provides the essential ceremonial and meditative characteristics that were Doni’s daily constituents for 2008. Rothko’s quote about “silence is so accurate” is a truthful representation of ’08-A Wall, because like Rothko, Doni wants her audience to use their own mind and imagination when they approach her installation.
Along with the installation the solo exhibit will contain a large scale painting on unstretched canvas along with medium scale ( 36”x36”) paintings. These pieces distinctively have an atmospheric quality with translucent layers of muted colors. The marks in the paintings appear to integrate with the background. Most of the paintings have a defined horizon line as seen in some of Rothko’s later color field work. Sometimes Doni actually cuts into the canvas. This method of “marking time” creates expandable time in a literal and metaphoric way. The slashes produce actual space and texture with an emblematic, cotton duck, bellows breathing in and out. The cuts on the canvas become portals into “more” time.
At the beginning of our studio visit, I asked Doni a question I ask many people: “How long do you plan on living?” She responded by saying: “…as long as I find my purpose.” Her purposeful life is unfolding in her artistic process-keep making more time.
view all articles from this author
Sandra Vista is A freelance journalist in Los Angeles.