Maggie Siner

“Maggie Siner is a citizen of the world. She has lived, painted, and taught in France and China, and maintains a residence in Venice, Italy, where she paints and frequently exhibits her work in galleries. She also exhibits in Paris, New York, Washington, Saint Paul de Vence, Marseille, Atlanta, and Boston. While her paintings hang in collections around the world, she is well known and highly regarded here at home with frequent shows at local galleries and a large base of collectors in the greater Washington area as well as throughout the Piedmont. Also a teacher, Siner has influenced a generation of painters. She is a frequent guest artist and public speaker whose lectures are well-attended by art lovers…”
-Greg Huddleston, The Piedmont Virginian, Spring 2012, pg. 53

Love at first sight, honesty.

Perhaps it’s because I instantly recognized a kindred spirit. My painting background began in Aix-en-Provence, France, and I so feel fundamentally (and incurably) rooted in the philosophies of Cezanne and Van Gogh. Her style is reflection of those paintings and ideas that ignited my life-long love affair with Art! In fact, I was unsurprised to see that she studied in southern France as well and has given several lectures on Cezanne.


Figure 1

Figure 1

Maggie Siner very rarely uses black pigment, and yet the paintings carry a beautiful landscape of contrasts. Usually the scene is simple, her focus on one or two forms/figures. These are quiet, everyday subjects. However, the vibrant hues bubble through the stillness, and the viewer cannot help but feel the happy clamour of color. Color seems to be her muse, but Siner does not coat the canvas with bright color (and this is all the better). The colors seem more fresh and alive with the steady support of grays (see Figure 1).

Figure 2

Figure 2

The bright colors sing out, and they echo across the painting. Often, a vibrant stroke will bring out its hues in another stroke. The color is hinted, it is a whisper in some places, but it is enough to forge a visual relationship (see Figure 2). As these relationships build, the work is tied together into a lovely, cohesive unit. Like, say, a giant knot, when you no longer see the tiny threads that make it up but think of it as something whole, something very different from the pieces that compose it.


Figure 3

Figure 3

The brushstrokes are quite broad, and many strokes are actually made with the pallet knife. Overall, I love how painterly the works appear. Brushstrokes are not blended to perfection, nor do they feel contained and tamed (see Figure 3). Each stroke carries its own weight, and each is important.

Siner uses her brushstrokes like building blocks. Not only do the strokes smear thick paint on the linen (giving them the visual weight of bricks), the strokes themselves build each object. She does not seem to be “filling in” objects, for there are hardly ever outlines around contours, but she allows the materiality and color contrasts of the strokes to convey edges, to show distinction as necessary.

Figure 4 (Allegory of Painting, 2008)

Figure 4 (Allegory of Painting, 2008)

Yes, the brushstrokes seem messy at times, and this gives them a care-free, organic feeling. However, sometimes the strokes are too wild, and suddenly I feel jolted back to my own reality. The unruly brushstrokes seem at odds with much of the rest of the painting (see Figure 4). There is a stability in the weightiness of the other brushstrokes. There is a constancy. Most of the time, they are so carefully placed, the colors blended and contrasted with care. That wild stroke hardly seems to have been made in the same mindset, even by the same person. It is foreign. It is so visually distracting, and I cannot attend to the rest of the work. The strokes stick out in a way that does not suit the world within the frame, and thus, a clashing duality arises. A duality that has a disorienting effect, sort of like if I began reading a book that suddenly switched languages on me.

Of course, there are plenty of works to appreciate that are cohesive, so I set my sights on those instead. Here are a few of my favorites…and if you want even more, here’s her official website. Enjoy!


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