The exhibition PRESENT at 490 Atlantic gallery features nine paintings by Jessica Weiss. In this body of work, made during the pandemic, Weiss continues to combine wallpaper, silkscreened patterns, fabric, and paint—utilizing the optical and psychological power of these scraps from domestic life. Within the colorful and tactile surface, figures appear, and gesture becomes important. The exhibit opens Saturday February 25th, 5-8pm.
What can you tell us about the body of work in the show?
For me and so many others, the pandemic has been a time of interiority. Six months in, struggling with meaning in life and work, I revisited my old muse, a collection of scavenged wallpaper. While juxtaposing these ready-made materials which were ripe with suggestion and association, a large head appeared and with it an urgency to discover what this evocative image was and where it would lead me. The fragments that came together as a figure became a surrogate, helping to formulate an answer. I was staying with the painting, staying “PRESENT”and attempting to follow its lead without preconceived notions. This exhibit is the result of that journey.
Over the last several decades I have developed a way of working in the studio aimed at surprising my eye. My hand-drawn line seemed already known so I looked for mark-making methods that produced unanticipated results. Printing and collage have become key in allowing me to play with visual ideas of space, color and content in an improvisation. In the studio I am surrounded by my materials: Screens, wallpaper, fabric, and paint. Pushpins assist as I move components around the canvas until a visual idea starts to germinate. The paintings develop over time – sometimes months, sometimes years.
In Offering, 2021 one of the earliest works in the exhibit, a figure is holding some flowers in her hand. Is she giving or receiving? In Buddhism which I have been studying for the last 7 years there is little differentiation between the two. Generosity goes in both directions. Giver, receiver, and gift are wrapped together as one, they cannot be separated.
In Carry, 2022, a figure is holding a sphere. Looking at this painting now it is not lost on me that I became a grandmother during the pandemic, giving me the gift of a wholly new perspective.
In Wonder, 2021 a seated figure is contemplating some flowers. It is a quiet moment, rare in our present chaotic world. This state of attention also may be on offer when “PRESENT” with a painting.
All photo courtesy of Jessica Weiss
About the Artist: Jessica Weiss is a native New Yorker who received her BA from Oberlin College and studied at the New York Studio School in the mid 1970s. She received a National Endowment for the Arts’ Fellowship in Painting in 1989, and showed her work in solo exhibitions at Outlet Fine Art, Brooklyn, A. M. Richard Fine Art, Brooklyn and Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, New York City. Her work has been reviewed in The New York Times, Art in America, Timeout NY, The Baltimore Sun, and the New York Observer. Weiss has appeared in numerous group exhibitions including “Two Friends and So On” at Andrew Kreps, “Seaworthy” at Edward Thorpe, “Three Degrees of Separation” at Sonnabend Gallery, and “The Stroke” (selected by Elizabeth Murray) at Exit Art. A recent painting was acquired by the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College.