To understand the genius of Diana Young’s paintings you’ll have to work your way through a few layers of misdirection and subterfuge. This isn’t an intentional deception, it’s just the veil under which her talents as a master of color palette are hidden. And if you want to get to the genius of her work, you will have to confront the apparent naiveté of her style first.
I myself had to deal with this issue before taking Diana on as the second painter represented by my company Flood Fine Art. As a family friend, I had been exposed to her work years before. Until I looked closer, Diana was known to me primarily as the cheerful contributor of lavishly colored landscapes to Bangor, Maine’s annual auction benefit circuit.
The simple joy and loose form of her style, a complete contrast to photorealist Tobin Sprout, the other established painter I represent, evoked a kind of flowing and free spirited ethos I did not associate with “serious art.” Diana’s penchant for production over editing also drove this perception of a skilled amateur happily cranking out work regardless of…well, anything else.
And boy was I wrong.
It took some time and a lot of looking, and looking again, and living with her work. Eventually I figured out what was hiding under all those flowing lines and forms and bold strokes of color: the most incredibly sophisticated color designer I’ve ever personally known.
I was speaking to a friend about Diana’s unique abilities the other day, as he was looking at one of her works on a 65 inch monitor. He said, “Yes, I see what you’re talking about. It’s like a Wall of Color. She’s the Phil Spector of painting!”
There it is. He nailed it. There are so many colors, in so many regions, combining together in vibrant and sometimes apparently impossible palettes, building complex ornate forms. Once you start looking at these paintings, your mind will slowly awaken and then shudder as you just look at the colors that exist, usually harmoniously – sometimes in opposition to each other, in extremely close proximity.
There is simply no other way to put it. Hidden underneath those idyllic scenes, playful lines and obvious enthusiasms lurks the hyperactive mind of a color genius, arranging, building, and assembling over and over and over again, color palettes that no normal painter would attempt, let alone riff on, seemingly ad infinitum, in a single canvas.
What may seem at first glance flowing, jumbled or simplistic is literally the veneer disguising something so purely brilliant underneath, the only painter I can mentally reference for comparison in color design – as a primary vehicle for rendering form, light, line – all the basic structures of an artwork – is Paul Cezanne.
Listen to Diana Young’s Dialogue Box interview and watch her paintings on YouTube.
Look at her Premium Suite custom selected by Flood Fine Art curation here.
Original analysis by T.R. Brogunier, posted December 08, 2018 in Asheville, North Carolina.
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