All Exhibitions

Leslie Vansen: The Topography of Line

Jan 13–Apr 2, 2023

MOWA | DTN

She starts with one line.

Leslie Vansen has spent a lifetime studying the line. To breathe life and meaning into her brushstrokes, she meticulously molds her paintings through layers of acrylic musculature, each curve and twist representing the passage of time, a movement, or an experience. “Every procedural tactile step taken in the construction of the painting is made insistently visible,” Vansen says, “recording the ‘work’ that has made the existence of the finished painting possible.” The Topography of Line, Vansen’s first major solo museum exhibition in more than a decade, invites you to meander the multitudinous paths of making embedded in her paintings.

Professor emeritus at the Peck School of Arts (University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee) from 1978 to 2020, Vansen has mentored and influenced generations of young artists in Wisconsin—and been influenced in turn. The untitled series of graphite drawings featured in The Topography of Line is the product of Vansen’s collaboration with the UW–Milwaukee dance department. These master drawings reveal an intuitive understanding of form and movement with punctuations of restraint. The series demonstrates the same fundamental message as the larger paintings: a timeline of experience communicated through abstraction.

In the tradition of twentieth-century artists like Jackie Winsor, Mel Bochner, and even Agnes Martin, Vansen is dedicated to the ongoing investigation of the visual language of line. She has exhibited widely over the course of her career, and her work is held in numerous public and private collections both regionally and nationally.

Learn more and read the artist's statement here.

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