Paul LaJeunesse is a realist landscape painter whose work deals with symbiotic relationships of light, space and structure. He attempts to create, in his viewers, the sensation of being present in the space of the imagery. This body of work focuses on the quality of light to create dramatic and surreal views of everyday spaces. Light is the unifying element found throughout the multifarious elements of the landscape, creating an underlying structural unity.
He received his master of fine arts in painting from Bowling Green State University in 2006, the Elizabeth Greenshields grant in 2006, and a Fulbright grant in 2007 in Reykjavik and Siglufjördur, Iceland. He previously taught at St. Louis Community College at Florissant and at Western Oregon University in Monmouth Oregon. He has exhibited nationally and internationally, with recent solo exhibitions at Rogue Community College, Idaho State University in Pocatello Idaho and Mars Hill Graduate school in Seattle Washington, at Saitama University in Saitama Japan, and the Akane Gallery in Tokyo. He currently resides in Atlanta Georgia where he is teaching drawing and painting at Georgia State University.
Thought creates distance and destroys the immediacy of direct experience, yet it is by thoughtful reflection that the elusive moments of the past draw near to us in present reality and gain a measure of permanence
– Yi-Fu Tuan
I am compelled to capture and hold onto significant experiences in an attempt to create a moment of reflection that transcends the literal description of space, and turns into place. The concept of place is a felt experience, one that comes from a sense of quality. Quality is neither a subject nor an object, but rather the event of an organism responding to its environment. I am fascinated with our perception of time and space, and how we assimilate it with an internal value system, to create meaning for our lives. What is most important to me is not the factuality of recollection, but rather how we assign value to what we remember.
When previous events are remembered, the timeline often falls apart, and memories of events are often jumbled and recalled by personal significance. In other instances singular moments are held still as though time has paused. Our memory strongly influences our perception of the present, and potential future; it helps us contextualize experiences. Upon reflection we are able to understand what has happened and assign meaning to our lives. It is through the thoughtful and careful reconstruction of an experience of place that I am able to pause, reflect, and recreate the significance of locality as a place of felt value.
My investigation of place, time and space is a way for me to understand how an individual functions as part of a unified system and ultimately my relationships to the world. The way light describes space, time of day, and structure becomes an allegory for the balance between unity and perceived dichotomies. It is this balance between the singular and the whole that can lead to questions of the nature of perception and reality, objectivity versus subjectivity, and the physical and metaphysical. The paintings do not attempt to depict a scene, but rather to harken to a moment of understanding of an experience that transcends the sense of self and aligns our being with the universe. External factors of light, location and weather, along with internal feelings, thoughts and emotions, coalesce to create our experience and value of place. By immersing myself in the process of painting place, from my past experiences, I feel closer to understanding my relation to the world in which I live.