Justine Fisher (b. 1984, Cape Town, South Africa; lives and works in Watermill, NY) creates large-scale oil paintings that blend abstraction and figuration, landscapes and domestic interiors, and the real and the uncanny. Known for her early figurative work featuring tightly-cropped, close up views of nude women, Fisher has recently begun to more clearly visualize the spaces her subjects occupy. Each painting originates from a sketch or idea that is shaped by a collage the artist generates from personal and found photographs and magazine clippings. As it did for her modernist predecessors, this practice allows Fisher to simultaneously represent and disrupt the traditional portrayal of space. She is most interested in exploring the realm between the concrete and the abstract, the domestic and the external, and the idyllic and the uncomfortable. Working within these liminal spaces, Fisher builds numerous gestural layers of color, form, and texture to create works that draw from traditional genres, art history, her own personal experiences, and the natural world to investigate the complexity of human nature, intellect, and desire.
Each seemingly disparate element of Fisher’s multi-layered paintings offer the viewer a point of entry and contemplation, and her distinct combination of symbols, figures, architectural structures, and natural formations imply an abundance of interpretations. In her newest series, each painting depicts a dense landscape marked by a path, archway, doorway, or slide that leads to a mysterious place. While the incongruousness present in her compositions gives Fisher’s paintings a slightly jarring undertone, the ominous quality in her work is not meant to connote danger or violence but rather relates to transformation and the discomfort that comes with meaningful change. For Fisher, the tension that is present represents the breath―inhalation and exhalation―that connects us to our body and its surroundings. Her recent work is less focused on investigating the subject and instead aims to illuminate our relationship to place―physical, metaphorical, or fictional. Fisher explains, “if the figure consumes the space it’s all about the ‘I,’ the ego. If the space holds the figure or even if the figure is absent, there is a higher level of objectivity, so it becomes more about a greater consciousness and empathy.” Fisher's recent exploration of otherworldly space is ultimately a way to get at the heart of the true nature of humanity and the many dimensions of our intellect, emotions, and corporeality.
Fisher received her MFA in 2013 from the New York Academy of Art, her BFA in 2010 from the School of Visual Arts, New York, and her BA in Art History in 2007 from New York University Gallatin School of Individualized Study. Her work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions organized by Lehmann Maupin, Aspen (2021); Weosky Gallery, Berlin, Germany (2013); New York Academy of Art, New York, NY (2013 and 2012); Sotheby’s, New York, NY (2011), and Phillips de Pury, New York, NY (2010).