Curated by Lauren Hansgen
Curator/Historian, Cowan Pottery Museum
Hazel Janicki’s style can best be described as Magic Realism. Characterized by representational subject matter rendered with extreme realism and attention to detail, Magic Realism often also included elements of fantasy and the unknown, hinting at intense emotions and alternative suggestions that lie just below the surface. Magic Realism was part of the larger movement of Post-Expressionism, which turned away from the overt emotions and abstraction of Expressionism in favor of subtle detachment and ambiguity. In the United States Magic Realism stemmed from the American Scene movement, though many American Magic Realists had studied in Europe and been greatly influenced by German realism.
American Magic Realists often blended their intense realism and precision with threads of social commentary and satire as well as personal revelations. Janicki was recognized as a highly skilled draughtsman, drawing in the tradition of old masters and often using an etching tool to scratch fine, web-like lines into the surfaces of her paintings. Recalling 15th Century Florentine art, she painted in egg tempera on porcelain smooth surfaces. Her subjects often depict women in static spaces that appear isolated, sometimes even partially concealed behind a curtain or veil. Recurrent themes in Janicki’s work also include Parisian street performers, the circus, ballet, and the culture of coastal New England.