by Michael Zakian, Director, Frederick Weissman Museum of Art

Linda Jacobson's paintings represent a pure form of nature mysticism. They arise from her conviction that the world is a beneficent place. Even when the earth seems neutral or indifferent, it nevertheless contains a positive force for healing and growth. This viewpoint harks back to the early nineteenth century Romantics and found full flowering in America in the writings of Transcendentalists such as Ralph Waldo Emerson. In his 1836 essay "Nature," Emerson asserted that "Every natural fact is a symbol of some spiritual fact." He understood that consciousness was so bound up with its surroundings that one was only a reflection of the other. Jacobson shares this belief in a fundamental link between nature and mind. Her paintings picture the paradox that thought can conceive of nature, yet is itself a part of the natural world.

Jacobson's paintings are landscapes yet they are abstract. This is her way of revealing that nature's true character is abstract. It is to be found in the force that permeates all things, imbuing life with an elemental vitality. As a painter she rejects descriptive precision, favoring large movements and patterns to literal description. Her visual vocabulary alludes to Art Nouveau. As in this late nineteenth century art movement, Jacobson sees the world as animated by an organic force. Matter is never inert, but swells and sways with an animating spirit. Her curving, enfolded compositions resemble the lines of psychic energy that permeate fin-de-siecle Symbolism. These curves point to nature's elasticity. Never a brittle façade, nature is endlessly elastic, able to renew itself.

Each landscape's winding path offers surprise and revelation. To a receptive soul, nature still possesses the capacity to engage, to fascinate, and ultimately, to elicit an awe-struck wonder that is known as the sublime. The sublime first arose as an aesthetic category in the late eighteenth century to describe a reaction far more profound than that of simple beauty. She believes that nature offers wonders that can still foster true sublime feelings. Jacobson sees the earth as feminine. As her landscapes recede into space, we see nature recline, powerful yet passive, offering itself to those who enter her domain. Positive and negative spaces fuse and interact, united by a rhythmic spirit that permeates both matter and void. These spaces seem timeless-primal and untainted. Free from the scars mankind has inflicted on earth, they represent a point in time when this damage has been healed, transformed by nature's feminine powers of renewal. These landscapes have a visionary, almost hallucinatory quality, and may be considered dreamscapes. Each object functions as an archetype representing a universal idea, rather than a specific thing. For example, a rock or mountain represents the general state of solid firmament. A river stands for all mutable, changeable substance. Light, whether from sun, moon or fire, is energy. Air is open space, a place of becoming. In some paintings explicit archetypes such as a spiral (a symbol of creative energy) or shield (a symbol of protection) illuminate the life energy of a place.

Jacobson has focused on spiritual landscapes since 1978, when she spent time in Arles in Southern France and experienced the mistral, a powerful wind that blows through the region turning fields into seas of swirling motion. Since then she has continued to depict the earth as a dwelling place, as vital matter capable of embracing the soul. The ancient Chinese believed that a successful landscape invited the viewer to take an imaginary journey into the painting. In a similar way, Jacobson's landscapes offer access for the sympathetic soul willing to enter a realm of beauty and fulfillment.

Court of the Wind’s Eye
Clayton Eshleman, American poet, essayist, translator and editor.

To be clear in reflecting on this art, let’s recall that our word window is based on Old Norse vindauga, meaning “wind eye,” and that curtain goes back to Latin cohors, or “court.” Window, as an eye in the wind, suggests an opening for air to enter. It is also, perhaps more immediately, that which translucently or opaquely seals us off from what thus becomes an “outside.”

Linda Jacobson’s recent artwork, on exhibit at Orlando Gallery, are receptacles for an otherness that consists of the layered suggestions of bars, panes and veils in which a continual inversion is at work. Landscape opaques the glass area of the painting and beams though the bars; the curtains instead of concealing, billow and register vista at the same time that heir dazzling emptiness, in a work called Rainbow Sortilege, folds as a veil across some of the richly hued outside. There are no fixed points in these paintings and pastels; rather, there is a gentle, rolling becoming-vanishing in which even the geometrical bars participate, as if they were giving way, slightly, so as to go with Jacobson’s vision of the world. It is a curvilinear vision, based on stream and flow, in which water is also fire and which the snake is also winged and female.

I fantasize, looking at these delicate gorgeous releases, that they were painted by Jacobson while she was riding a dragon. Her curtains -- or -- veils are deeply mysterious; they appear to have the freedom to pass in and out of the glass and bars, and in this sense the curtains take on an almost muscular, if diaphanous, life of their own, resembling exquisite cyclones or even, at times, weightless stalactites. And as their subtle “serpent power” flashes and vanishes in a ripple of ruffled edges, a very feminine sexuality suggests that as we the viewers reflect on these vistas constructions, no matter how far out we are taken, the movement is within.

Several very recent works, most notably Wind of Midnight and Fragmented Window, open up a new range of associations contained in window and curtain e.g., that as glass, the window can shatter, and that as material, the curtain not only can come loose (Jacobson’s’ curtains are seldom pinned back), but can fray, shred and rip. To bring in such associations raises the stakes, so to speak, for even as the previous pervasive undulation is curtailed, a new, more jagged and complex grid of imagery is suggested –-with the risk of losing the window-curtain balance. To rend a veil is traditionally an apocalyptic act, and as Jacobson’s colors move into greater and more glaring contrasts, as curtains and bars become a bunch of shreds and sticks in the rip of a clenched fist, we feel the onset of contrariety without which there is no development in art.

LINDA JACOBSON At Mendenhall Gallery, Whittier College
Katya Williamson, Writer and author

Integrating, in her words, the “tangible imagery of the visible world with the emotional life of inner states,” Linda Jacobson’s paintings are filled with mythic and surrealistic apparitions. Expressing the spiritual in art through a feminist perspective, Jacobson’s works are full of imagery from personal dreams, Jungian concepts and the essence of Tibetan Buddhist meditations.

Focusing on narrative connotations rather than merely allowing spontaneous imagery to come to the surface, Jacobson’s allegiance to the Post-Surrealist School of Lorser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg is clear. Feitelson, her professor at the Art Center College of Design and in a private mentor croup for many years, gave her insights into the “possibility of line.”

Black Path with Biomorphic Form includes the flat line compositions and modelled voluminous forms of the Post-Surrealists. The painting moves the eye down a dark corridor the place where dreams could begin. Flames and trees of black are illuminated by white orbs of light, swirling in waves. A couch-like bench of marble and a half moon stand at this gateway, their shapes – ovoid, rotund, cylindrical, strangely familiar – hinting at what one might encounter if one takes this alluring passage into the inner worlds.

In embarking on this path, Jacobson pays tribute to surrealists Masson and Savinio; to Kandinsky, for his interest in creating a metaphysical visual manifestation of the spiritual; and to Rothko for his express of spiritual consciousness. Her Pathway with Gold Mandala, a richly configured landscape with a concave, earlike orifice to one side and a milky blue rive of light denoting another passageway is a strong testament to his consciousness, and what lies within.


I open Linda Jacobson’s red door to pot-headed lordly and deathless hybrids.
I hail and beware of their shadows, for they consume the shadows we costume here.
The earth wears fluid robes. Strewn Petals strewn on a yoni gust and blend.
The sky is a bath incestuous.
Aphrodite’s pudenda is served on an orchid, or is that Naropa's leprous pinkie?
--or a heather-stuffed caterpiIlar?
Is Santa Claus now flashing through the chimney of my chest, an Amanita blur, all sirloin, no stars?
In Linda Jacobson’s vision, Goya hunches by a menstrual harp of vermilion scarves resounding surf. In a stone’s magenta folds, the moon swims Atlantisward through the serpent panels of our spines. I am filled with praise for these radial stages layered with animals and yellow sand.
Pink earth quilted with tufts of violet grass. Earth of clouds like tangled, albino eels. Earth of miniver and rose rock alive as coral reefs. The dead are glimpsed: fuscous hands gripped in prayer. Earth of cobalt thrasher-filled trees, chirping purple buds.
In Jacobson’ s dreamscapes I rediscover Bixby Canyon Bridge agasp with 9 eyes, Allen Ginsberg's tidepool bubble talk high on seals like fat brown worms, an azure sky with amber thistle lighting up flocks of boulder nuzzling.
I marvel at how, as a true shaman-painter, she has translated the torment of Edvard Munch’s human figures that blend into each other in curvaceous anxiety. In Jacobson, Munch’s anguish is beautifully turned into land and sea scapes in which the Norwegian’s morbid meldings become ecstatic interpenetrations.
The art of Linda Jacobson has the boldness of a dilated peony, bemused in a bower lined with dragons.

--Clayton Eshleman, 2008

Marla Duryee, Whittier Daily News

Paintings of dreams illuminate the real world of Linda Jacobson.
Her paintings are autobiographical in nature and described as mirror surfaces on which she imprints psychic images.
“I am a painter exploring emotional, psychological and spiritual dimensions of self as symbolized by landscape,” she said.
The use of landscape as a metaphor for the subconscious is in keeping with her Jungian philosophy “The landscape is the stage where I place symbols that relate to emotional feelings I have,” she explained.
Symbols such as forests, oceans and rocks dominate the paintings, yet the organic objects are foreboding in feel because black and gray are the predominate colors.
“I was exploring life and death and looking at why are we here, where are we going where did we come from?” I got in touch with my own mortality,” Jacobson said explaining the myseterious allure of these early paintings.
Black Pathway depicts a large black road receding into the corner of the canvas passing ominous shadowed trees and shapeless forms. This is similar to Black Pathway with Mirror, which shows similar forms with the addition of a reflecting mirror blocking the path.
The pathways in these is a metaphor for the life process; we move along a path but don’t necessarily know where we are going,” she said.
But as she travels that path of self-exploration, light and color enters the paintings.
“Introspection leads to knowing, a higher level of consciousness and awareness, and then comes a sense of peace of mind and lightness,’ she said.
According her more recent works, such as Above Wailuku, which shows towering purple peaks shrouded with swirling gray clouds are colorful and bright.

Stephanie Sanchez, Artist and writer

Linda Jacobson’s chalk drawings on view at Bolen Gallery, in Santa Monica, describe mutability and suggest the process of transcendence in the context of landscape. Most of the drawings were done out of doors and were inspired by a visit she made to the Camargue area of southern France, near Arles, which attracted artists such as Van Gogh and Cezanne.

Jacobson shares the interests of the impressionists –color is broken up prismatically, almost dealt with for its own sake, and the landscape is treated as a living, breathing force, energized with swirling strokes of color. Influences of the surrealists and, to some extent, the synchronists can also be seen. In the most memorable drawings she subordinates landscape as subject matter to the more abstract qualities of light, color and form existing within the landscape. In Les Rougeoux (the reeds) a natural form in the field, are abstracted into broad strokes of color that dominate the drawing, primarily as physical elements on the paper, secondarily as representations of growing plants. In another drawing, in slashes of gray and black, the landscape from which the rendering evolved is barely decipherable. Rather, the dominant theme is the motion and turbulence of air or water – it is not certain which was intended. But the atmosphere, the air itself, is the actual theme, the spirit if you will.

In all of Jacobson’s drawings a sense of spinning, reeling and flowing conveys an overall impression of joyousness and celebration, not in a facile manner. A refreshing sensibility effectively expressed.

Linda Jacobson
Los Angeles Times
Robert Pincus, Art Critic

In all Linda jacobson’s paintings and drawings, the viewer is placed in the same position—gazing out of a window partially shrouded by curtains. The analogy here links window to painting, telling us that her art will frame the world and illuminate it. The artist as seer is, of course a familiar role and often one associated with Romantic visionaries. Jacboson assumes this role, but gives it a sentimentalized form, transforming the world into soft forms and sweet pastel yellows, purples and pinks that evoke a vision of innocence.

There are fine passages in some of her compositions. In Distant Memories, she subtly evokes the curve of a woman’s body with curtains lifting gently in a breeze, perhaps infusing the scene with an autobiographic resonance.