Fredericks & Freiser is pleased to present an exhibition of new paintings by Jenna Gribbon. In Uscapes, the artist’s second solo exhibition with the gallery, Gribbon continues her investigation into the possibilities of figuration as a vehicle for pleasure, escape, and self-consciousness. With Uscapes, Gribbon offers three modalities of inviting the viewer to look, all of which have distinct consequences.
In her monumentally proportioned figurative works, which the artist has termed “uscapes,” the artist constructs scenes of herself with her partner Mackenzie Scott. Against backdrops of dramatic swaths of paint, two bodies take center stage. The contours of the bodies are seductive and sinuous like hills and pastures of landscapes: the viewer relies upon linear hints and borders to understand where one flesh stops and the next begins. Other times, however, the distinction between bodies collapses and renders irrelevant the lovers’ physical autonomies. In these large uscapes, Gribbon’s bodily position hits the viewer at the lower half of their bodies so that the viewer assumes her point of view as they peer through her legs onto Scott’s body. Along with the scale and zoomed-in focus of the scene, this fleeting and imagined elision between the viewing body and Gribbon’s own painted body provides scopophilic moments of awareness. It is critical that these scenes are complete constructions of the artist and her partner’s moments together. The artist invites the viewer into assembled inventions of her own most intimate moments only to cast the audience into uncertainty about the constructedness of the images we consume and the effects of our networks of optical interchange.
In Gribbon’s traditionally scaled head-and-shoulder portraits of Scott and in her smaller narrative tableaus, the artist invites the viewer to look but by different means. In one portrait of Scott, the light is so aggressive, akin to the viewers’ unrelenting gaze, that the subject shields her eyes with her hand, which denies her the ability to see just as it refuses the light’s penetration of her eye and the audience’s ability to see her face unobstructed. The shadow cast by Scott’s hand onto her face covers her eyes so that Scott’s optical vessels are thrust into purple oblivion. In other paintings of the same scale, Scott is presented
head-on with one breast exposed as she uses two fingers from each hand to cover each eye, or Scott is blindfolded and presented in profile, or she peers through an opening between fingers of a raised hand, poised and ready to cover her eyes. In the tableaus, the viewers pay witness to more authentic scenes of Scott urinating outdoors or checking Gribbon for ticks, amongst other activities. In these scenes, the viewers adopt the more traditional role of the voyeur, but all the while there is the uncanny sense that Gribbon is the ultimate voyeur.
Together, Gribbon’s figurative-scapes toggle in scale and prick an uneasy self-awareness within her viewers. The artist foregrounds the possibilities of escapism, whether benevolent or dubious, that come with consuming intimate content generated by others. The various sources of light manipulate not only what the viewer can become privy to but also affect what the subjects of the paintings themselves can see. Light is a principal conductor that constructs narrative and controls visual exchange: the viewer is desperate to gaze, but the frame is too big or too small, the light too bright or too dark. Gribbon is ultimately curious about the assumed veracity of consumed images as the artist probes the tense relationship between image production, intimacy, and voyeurism.
About the Artist
Jenna Gribbon (b. 1978 Knoxville, TN) lives and works in Brooklyn. Her work has been exhibited widely in the United States and abroad. Her most recent exhibitions include Agnes V par Jenna G at Sim Smith, London; The Artist Eroticized, Tennis Elbow, The Journal Gallery, New York; and the group shows: I Care Because You Do, curated by Matt Black, The Mass, Tokyo; and I will wear you in my heart of heart, The Flag Art Foundation, New York; Present Generations: Creating the Scantland Collection, Columbus Museum of Art; Equal Affections, organized by Edwin Oostmeijer, Grimm, Amsterdam; Portraiture One Century Apart, Massimo de Carlo, London and Paris; and Towards a More Beautiful Oblivion, Fredericks & Freiser, New York. Her next solo exhibition will be at Massimo de Carlo, London (2022). A monograph of her work published by Gnyp GMBH will be available in September.