One could describe the work of Robert Janitz as a study of the genealogy of labor. The artist applies paint as a worker would slather a tile with grout. Faced with such constraints, the bored worker may begin to articulate her trowel strokes while still covering the tile’s surface. As generations pass, the gene tires of coding simple protein structures in favor of ornate skeletons. The spreading of paint often takes on a bonelike form – an illustration, perhaps, of the ideal form that the gene pursues.
Much of Janitz’ newest work concerns what is lost in the creative process. Janitz cites Goethe’s close study of the Abhigyanshakuntalam by the Sanskrit poet Kalidas as a driving influence of the new paintings. Goethe could not read Sanskrit, and his devotion to Kalidas’ work depended entirely on translations of the arcane ancient language. Undoubtedly much of the original nuance of the work was lost as it entered the continental discourse, which only enhances its enigmatic qualities. Much is lost in the making of Janitz’ paintings, too – the artist describes traveling forward and backward in time as he removes sections of the wet paint with a rubber spatula. Thus, the painting – as a document – is written, translated, and recoded.