New York painter Francie Lyshak directs her focus inward to stare down and pick apart a lifetime of personal experience—some of it highly traumatic—offering viewers stories and spaces into which they can immerse themselves spiritually and emotionally as well as visually. Drawing on a training and career in art therapy, Lyshak wields her knowledge of painting as a tool for exploring inner landscapes.
Beginning her artistic journey in Manhattan’s East Village in the 1970s, Lyshak interacted with an extraordinary creative community that she later documented in a series of interviews and images titled The Bar. During this formative period, she developed a style of painting that deviated from the prevailing trends of minimalism, Pop, and conceptual art. Combining dreamlike images of dolls and toys with human and animal figures, she set out to explore psychological themes from a feminist perspective, and in 1993 staged a pivotal exhibition that explored her own recovery from childhood sexual abuse.
In the years following, Lyshak’s aesthetic has undergone a gradual shift from illustrative figuration toward pure color field and monochrome abstraction, in some works combined with incised words and phrases. Her art remains directed toward contemplation of the self, but in her most recent canvases, she allows the material of paint itself to take center stage, establishing open fields of color and texture that allow for more open-ended interpretation. Dispensing with identifiable narrative and symbolism, she conjures moods and atmospheres that prompt a meditative gaze, a calm, mindful—and hard-won—form of looking.