Pigment pencil on Mylar. Unframed.
The Maelstrom Series include the most iconic and known of Peerna's works.
Starting from the center on a tilted table, she extends her fingers toward arms’ length as freely as possible within a rigor of control.
The result is both studied and spontaneous, black upon translucent white, and can be found in discriminating collections worldwide.
Jaanika Peerna is an Estonian-born artist whose work encompasses drawing, video, installations and performances. She creates abstract drawings on thin plastic paper through intuitive physical movements inspired by, and reminiscent of dance. She lives and works in New York and Tallinn.
In Peerna’s studio work, she uses the physical movements of her body to simulate natural forces such as falling water, wind, gravity and momentum. She attaches a sheet of Mylar to a board then grasps a bunch of pencils in each hand. Touching the tips of the pencils to the Mylar she then executes a single, fluid, whole-body gesture, moving the pencils across the surface in emulation of the motion of natural phenomena such as a waterfall or storm surge. In this movement, Peerna’s body becomes like water released.
The pencils are an extension of Peerna’s physicality and the image left behind on the surface is an instantaneous record of this singular natural event. Outside the studio Peerna sometimes collaborates with musicians, dancers and other artists, executing her drawings on Mylar spread out onto the floor or hung from the ceiling. She connects her pencils to the Mylar’s surface then moves across the surface creating marks that record the intuitive motions she makes while interacting with her partner.
Peerna is inspired by transitory natural phenomena such as light, water and air. While in the process of creating a drawing, she connects to the sound of the tip of the pencil running across the surface. The image thus becomes a physical record of the transitory nature of the experience in which she is collaborating. The work is an aesthetic monument, a visual memory of the moment.
Though active, involved, and sometimes noisy, Peerna’s practice is deeply rooted in an investigation of silence. It is an attempt to record the simplicity and beauty underlying a complex set of environmental and experiential stimuli. Her drawings are a relic of the culmination of a meeting of three-dimensional and two-dimensional space. The work carries with it an inherent contemplative depth caused by the use of a static, flat surface, as a method of recording emotional, psychological and physical transitions involving space, time and human activity.