Jackie Gendel‘s paintings remind me of the Fauvist painters such as Henri Matisse and André Derain, her figures obscured, disappearing into the background, the colour the most prominent part of her compositions. There is nothing contemporary about her scenarios; the postures, the naked women, the faces looking out of the canvases look strangely a-historic as if she’s revising paintings that went before, re-appropriating them, removing them from their historical context and reinventing them for now. Maybe its simply a continuation of the unnatural colour palettes of the Fauvists who, in their day, were derided for their work.
Here’s what her exhibition statement has to say about her new show:
This peculiar take on the incremental space within and between paintings provides an unlikely connection between Gendel’s recent work and her early work derived from her background in underground comics, a medium of “sequential image” storytelling, which she drew in the late ‘90s for an upstart feminist webzine for teenage girls.
But her recent work is also equally established in her approach to easel painting, and specifically her play with the notion of character and historical time developed throughout her first exhibition of speculative portraits at the gallery in 2006, which the artist credits as an important turning point in her work, and has continued in various iterations since.
As in Gendel’s previous portraits, a change of gender or historical location may occur in a sleight-of-hand gesture of the brush, in her new work entire compositions lifted from art historical motifs may be repeated. As the weight of the hand is lightened, mastery becomes chicanery; the symbolic violence of a typical beheading is “domesticated” in pastel hues, and historical scale takes diminutive size. Characters within Gendel’s narrative “revenge of the same” change roles between protagonists, victims and spectators, in addition to changing gender, ethnicity and origin.
Her new show ‘Comedy Of Manners’ is currently exhibiting until 10th November at The Jeff Bailey Gallery, 625 W27th Street (11th and 12th Avenues), New York
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