Jenny Laden’s recent paintings and watercolors will be on view at Heskin Contemporary from January 8th through February 14, 2009. A reception for the artist will be held on Thursday, January 8th from 6-9 pm.
Jenny Laden asks the question: why are we, by nature, fascinated with others, with their stories, their bodies, their faces? Laden’s answer is that we are in a constant search for recognition— for ourselves and by extension, for connection and understanding. Ms. Laden works through imagined figuration exploring the complexities of people and offering something new to recognize. By using figurative imagery and portraiture, the viewer enters this world, wanders and examines.
Ms. Laden describes her painting as work that plays with the power of beauty, at times succumbing entirely to it, and other times rejecting it harshly. She portrays an internal struggle of the female desire for the power of enticement, which comes with beauty, and wanting the power of seriousness, which can deny beauty.
In this new body of work Jenny Laden borrows from Byzantine painting (gold leafing, iconographic small wooden panels), cartoon imagery (line quality, bright colors, fantastical landscapes, exaggerated features) and 19th century portraiture (poses, composition, the interlacing of the pastoral with the portrait) to create a fusing of figure and landscape. In the works, hair becomes its own world, growing from the inside of the figure’s mind outward into abstracted landscape and space— symbols of comfort and home, small houses on hills, lush trees in verdant settings. These images are hints of longing for a sense of home and knowledge of belonging. At times playful, aggressive and introspective, they lurk in the space between the iconic, eternal presence of the female figure in painting, and the specific moment we see a vulnerable and vital human being.
This is Ms. Laden’s first solo exhibition at Heskin Contemporary. The artist received her BA from Barnard College and her MFA from NYU. She was born in Philadelphia, PA and has exhibited throughout the U.S. and Canada.