It was a bitterly cold and gray day, in February, 2014. Gail Winbury had just returned from a brief trip to Woodstock, New York. Walking into her studio, she was shocked by the bright vibrant colors of her paintings. She was overwhelmed, but had no idea why. This colorist painter, suddenly stopped using warm bright colors, restricting her pallet to mixed blacks, blues and ochre. A few weeks later, in early March, Winbury realized it was the anniversary of both of her parents' deaths. She was also about to turn sixty. For the next two years, her paintings reflected a grappling with aging, death and the ensuing losses that come with time's passage.
Gail Winbury is a multi-disciplinary artist. Her background and training as an artist merges seamlessly with her prior background as a psychologist. For example, an earlier body of Winbury's work (2011-2016) explored female sexuality from an empathic point of view. As an artist, Winbury struggled with the male gaze in art. For years she thought about and disagreed with de Kooning's depiction of women as aggressive slashes, gorgons and medusa. Yet she was deeply influenced by his work. Taking back de Kooning's luscious pinks and salmons and strong gesture, Winbury used abstract language to express her ideas about women's sexuality. As a working psychologist, for years she had treated women with eating disorders as well as PTSD from sexual trauma. These were women who at times used their bodies as canvases, as a visual expressions of their pain and conflict.
Most of Winbury's art is beautiful, expressive, deeply personal and psychological. Yet the work has a universal resonance. Her painting shifts between pure abstraction and figurative abstraction. However often there always is the slightest hint of the figure. She blends psychological theory and personal experience/memory with abstraction. She invites the viewer to slow down from a plugged in world, to contemplate and to find themselves in the work. Winbury communicates profoundly in ways where words are inadequate to express feelings and experiences . The Inscrutables: our intimate selves, a recent series, is a visual journal painted over a 9-month period. Started in a creative fallow, each piece holds the truth of her particular mental state, mood, or memory from day to day. Winbury's current series grapple with questions of childhood memory and that which is seen and what remains hidden.
D.W. Winnicott, an inspiration for Winbury, wrote of creativity and the “true self”. He believed the roots of the “True Self” (trust, creativity, and spontaneity) grow before the acquisition of spoken language. Winbury has a gift for understanding uncertainty, conflict and human yearnings. She knows how make those manifest in visual language. This prolific, expressive artist, makes art which reflects the enduring triumphs, joys, sorrows, losses of the human condition.