The Subject is Time—A Studio Visit with Virginia Sharkey

August 21, 2022

Virginia led me along a sheltered path around the house,

then up a staircase
to her studio...

"I lost my large airy studio when the building was sold. I feel fortunate to have this temporary space, but as I work large it’s way too small and dark. I have plans for building a studio though the paperwork is taking forever."

"I’ve been working with time, with times of day, with noon, approaching light, and now midnight, what you can feel about those two times of day, 12 noon and 12 midnight, how they are related. My compositions always have a subject, even though I use abstract means.”

How does time become a subject for you?

"My paintings are carefully considered. They are what a friend has called 'slow paintings.' I want to make paintings no one has seen before. I don’t want to just put conventionally accepted shapes together."

"It’s all related in some way to playing the violin in symphonies, years of meditation, Zen art and the particular renditions of space in Asian painting. It's the emptiness of time, its non-existence. But the moment—I’ve always been interested in the idea of presence and capturing the moment, crystallizing it, so that it becomes eternal. I’m Interested in the tension between the infinite and the intimate. Like with interior space, I’m aware of compression, and trying to get a space that seems full rather than empty."

Some of Virginia’s tools

A perennial question: When is a painting finished?

"You pare down some of the elements as much as you can. The work is never the miracle you want it to be, it always falls short. But you can only push a particular work so far; you have to acknowledge and respect the work itself. It becomes something out of your hands, another entity with its own rules, and you have to respect its being."

Miriam Davis
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