Janine Iversen
...in the Side Room
The bus driver’s windshield is a painting in the rain. I have been watching the wipers beating left, right, left, right, smearing red and purple and green against the night. I know it’s an impossible painting because as soon as the brush hits those colors, they turn to brown.

I have been driving all night, my thumb counting the ribs on the steering wheel, over and over. I know it’s an impossible painting because I am staring straight at the road and giving into astigmatism, not really seeing anything. I am completely focused on my thumb’s task, its blindness.

I have been waiting at this intersection, the cars blurring past, and all of a sudden, I have to cross the street. I know it’s an impossible painting because the lights stuttered, green, yellow, red, in three directions at once, and I have never understood why pedestrians need icons of themselves to cross the street when drivers get pure color.

There is a leak in two of my tires. It is silly, to try to measure their slow flattening with the eye instead of cutting to the chase, pressing the gauge to the valve and watching the needle rev up and flutter. There is something about the roundness of the gauge and the tire and the wheel, the way that you think you can feel deflation in a sharp turn, the way that you slide quarters on a track to turn on a hose to make these circles more perfect.


Janine Iversen knows that these are impossible paintings, but she starts them anyways. They have to do with the gulf between feeling and facture, not only in the uncomfortable misregistration between eye and hand, but also the productive distance of the refraction back to the viewer. There are vortices sweeping across their surfaces like weather. There are coy openings, portholes, pupils constricting.

It is not that Iversen’s paintings just look back at you, but that they disassemble the musculature of looking, so that the movement of a wrist is like the focusing of a sight, and the just-there borders in the paint are like the clinking of billiards or the ticking of a timepiece. They tempt you toward recognition, but up close each winking gesture deflects back into the paint. The ovals become nostrils, then thumbprints, thumbing their nose, jeering mouths with eyebrows, things that chew on vision.

What is undeniable is the speed that these canvases are worked on in the studio—how they are rotated, retouched, and obliterated. The speed that you can see in the frayed end of a brushstroke, like the engine’s kick that you feel in your toes. The paintings are small and large. They are each finished for a moment. They get at perception in bursts that reward those willing to see with the force that they require.

– Louis Block

Janine Iversen (b. 1981, Cleveland, Ohio) lives and works in Upstate New York. She earned a BFA in painting from the School of Visual Arts, New York in 2009. Recent exhibitions include a two-person exhibition with Peter Shear at Clearing, New York (2024), and solo exhibitions at David Petersen Gallery, Minneapolis (2023) and Marvin Gardens, Ridgewood, NY (2021). Iversen’s work has also been included in group exhibitions at David Petersen Gallery, Minneapolis (2023), Sarah Brooke Gallery, Los Angeles (2021), and Left Field Gallery, Los Osos, CA (2022).