Collezione Maramotti presents Mirages, the first solo show in a European art institution by American painter Jenna Gribbon, who has conceived a new group of ten works specifically for our Pattern Room.
Gribbon often depicts the people closest to her: her friends, her son, her partner, her fellow artists. Her paintings capture the intricacies and dynamics within these relationships while addressing the implications surrounding seeing and being seen. The viewer shares the artist’s point of view in the scenes, encouraged to explore the relationships both within the canvas, between subject and artist, and beyond it, as partners, family or friends. The intimacy and feeling within these relationships are absorbed into the gesture and painterly language used by the artist to depict them.
The central subject of the works in the exhibition is the artist’s partner, musician Mackenzie Scott (aka TORRES). Gribbon’s protagonist is portrayed in vivid colours and fluid, sensual brushstrokes that make the surroundings almost merge with her body—a body that is reflected, moulded, perused, made larger than life—experimenting with scale and compositions that are entirely new for the artist.
While in the larger paintings the visual energy of these images radiates from a distance—their forms becoming almost abstract as one approaches the surface of the canvas—the smaller works demand proximity, a personal movement towards and into the work in order to grasp its details and narrative.
In this project Gribbon continues to explore the gaze, introducing specific, recurrent figurative elements.
The mirror amplifies the reflection of these gazes and evokes the theme of the double, while the blindfold becomes another building block for a narrative about power dynamics. White beams of direct, artificial light and the glimmer of crackling flames are combined with backgrounds that suggest the glow of green screens, onto which an endless number of visions could be projected. Mackenzie can be seen as a blind victim feeling her way forward or a passive subject of exploration; as the goddess Fortuna or a sleepy, blindfolded personification of justice; as the creator of fictional worlds or a soothsayer caught in the divinatory act; as a woman cut in half on the operating table or in a magic show; as a fiery phoenix or a relaxed vacationer—a constantly shapeshifting figure who embodies a range of intertwined iconographic and mythological allusions, alongside scenes of daily life, playful moments and hints of subjugation.
Gribbon’s figurative paintings draw inspiration from personal memories, art history and everyday experience, fluidly combining different styles in each piece. Working from photos she has taken with her phone as a way of “capturing ideas”, the artist creates scenes and portraits that have a cinematic feel, hovering between reality, fiction and imagination.
As unique portrayals of a female universe where beauty and pleasure are political tools for demolishing patriarchal and heterosexual structures, her works engage viewers as active participants in complex relationships of the gaze.