January 30 to June 5, 2011
Artist Jenny Dubnau faces reality Head On in her most recent series of straightforward portrait paintings, on view at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum from January 30 to June 5, 2011.
The subjects of her series of realistic portrayals include artists Shimon Attie, James Esber, and Thilo Hoffmann—all of whom currently have work related to the theme of Portraiture on view at The Aldrich. This selection of sitters was intended to function as a mirror reflecting back upon those whose own projects focus on portraiture. This enables them to examine their own feelings when the gaze is turned on them, in this case by an artist who does not choose the model’s most flattering aspect to capture in her oils.
Although Dubnau’s paintings are typical portraits as we know them, they can also function as anti-portraits. Instead of choosing the most complimentary pose and facial expression—one that would glorify the sitter in perpetuity, as in traditional portraiture—Dubnau captures the fleeting moment of an involuntary expression. She finds physical imperfections, such as signs of aging, to be compelling instances of vulnerability, and focuses on them in detail.
Dubnau’s work is also political in the sense that realist painting in today’s contemporary art world is often considered a style which has lost its relevance. However, she believes that resorting to an unapologetically unsentimental and descriptive language is relevant to our time. She explains, “You are capturing something about the way people really look by not idealizing features, because this is not a vanity project, I paint them as they exist and reflect their own realities and concerns.”
Curator Mónica Ramírez-Montagut notes, “As a group, Dubnau’s portraits and their gathering of disparate gestures represent the universality of human nuances. Tapping into a wide range of facial expressions, she pinpoints humanity in all of us. In her attempt to represent this humanity, she presents unlimited possibilities of expression that we all recognize and share. This recognition of each other is ultimately what provides us with a sense of being, of purpose, of consistency and confidence. We are who we are, and Dubnau reaffirms us in that ineffable truth.”
Jenny Dubnau grew up in New York City and received her MFA from Yale in 1996. Her photo-based psychological portraits have been seen at P.P.O.W and Black & White Gallery, New York; Bucheon Gallery, San Francisco; and Bernice Steinbaum Gallery, Miami. She is the recipient of a Tiffany grant (2001), a Pollock-Krasner grant (2004), a Guggenheim grant (2004), a NYFA grant (2008), and a Joan Mitchell Foundation grant (2008). Dubnau lives in Queens and paints in Brooklyn.
Jenny Dubnau, Self-portrait with Earrings, 2010
Courtesy of the artist