When we say that a work of art is gestural, what do we mean? A gesture is a signal; a sign; a movement of the body. Gesture is one of the aspects of a painting that tells us about the painter. We see the brush marks on the surface and we trace the path the painter’s body must have taken; we imagine the feeling of the movement; it helps us connect to the work. Whether tight and controlled, or flowing and free, gesture communicates something about mood, intention, and energy. Gesture is natural—it binds human forms and motions with the forms and motions of plants, waves, animals, and the elements.
Painters like Jill Moser, Margaret Neill and Jaanika Peerna convey energy and fluidity through gesture. Brenda Zappitell and Ellen Priest evoke music through gesture. Holly Miller demonstrates measure and stability through the intentional gesture of her lines. Elizabeth Gourlay and Clay Johnson show us the passage of time and the power of addition and subtraction through the repetitive gestures of layering and reduction.