Lusting for Nature with Jack Penny
New year, same blog, MORE ART!
It's been a while since I last reviewed a gallery exhibition... and, since becoming a freelancer, it's been a while since I left my apartment. My lack of cultural exposure and enveloping cabin fever meant that this was the perfect situation to stand up from my desk, kick through the bags of Deliveroo, put on a blazer, and get some sunlight before I develop rickets... oh yeah, and see art.
I saw a posting for Jack Penny's show at Sin Sin Fine Art in Central Hong Kong titled "Naturelust". Though I'd never heard of the artist or the work previously, the name "Naturelust" immediately caught my attention by combining man's two universal loves: sex and, of course, botany.
Upon entering the gallery, it was like returning home. The cluster of creatives clad all in black commenting on the lack of white wine selection, the live acoustic guitar player, the full wall coverage of contemporary-postmodern-impressionist paintings... All immediately attuned my inner art critic senses like the lute of your one annoying friend who plays a bard in Dungeons and Dragons to be "silly and different". I was ready to grab some cheese, grab some wine, turn on my phone's rear facing camera for once, and get ready to lust after some nature.
Let's start off with a pretense: I think jack penny is a reputable artist. His craft is good, his style is consistent, and his aesthetics made my eyeballs go, "ooooo".
That being said, he is an impressionist painter who's about a century late to the party. I love a good impressionist piece, and I wouldn't be above saying that I'd gladly hang Penny's work in my kitchen. If you want me to critically analyze this and say that it's is as contemporaneously sexy as sliced bread with the crust pre-removed, you gotta compel the hell outta me with your statement.
And with a title like "Naturelust" I prepared myself for a statement that I'd feel uncomfortable reading in front of my mother:
OK well... let's just look at the work then~
Right off the bat, we notice a mixed medium approach and range of depictions in which penny renders his subjects. The displayed pieces switch between his more solidly depicted works on canvas and his more gestural compositions presented on a less textured, thin surface (I shamefully forgot to pick up a promotional postcard at the entrance with the medium list... So we're just gonna say it was "on paper")
His larger flagship paintings comprised mostly of nude female forms translated through bolder solid brush strokes and non-local color tones immediately resonated with me as "Matisse-esque", However, the sense of freedom conveyed with many of Matisse's subjects seemed absent from Penny's. Whereas Matisse's subjects were very organic and seemingly flowing through the canvas, Penny's nudes did not relish in their natural freedom often hunched like a closeted exhibitionist on alert for the possible early return of a roommate.
The forms seemed more confined in their settings and had a sense of yearning for removal.
Then suddenly, yanked from the canvas and sprawled about the framed works on paper that flank his larger pieces is the movement we have been seemingly in search of. These smaller works depict a similar sense of escapist yearning, however, the more gestural qualities of the line work imply a heightened sense of movement and chaos.
Whether that movement is physical or metaphorical is best left to interpretation. However, the solemn sense of fleeting their current situation resonates through the scene.
Penny's works do hold a heightened concept that contemporizes impressionist thought, but perhaps in a greater and different sense than his statement gives credit for.
In my interpretation as a removed and slightly more wine filled viewer, I did not see a "lust for nature" necessarily, nor a commentary on the "nature of lust". As a resident of a very small, mildly confined, and constantly transient city, these works spoke much more to me as a yearning for escape of the normality we place ourselves in and the universal search and wonder and what we could be missing out on if we weren't in our current state.
But I guess "Naturelust" does sound more sexy than, "Entrapment in Normality"... +5 more points to you, Penny...
Don't just take my word for it, Nature Lust runs at Sin Sin Fine Art until March 8, 2018. That gives you approximately 3 weeks to walk up Lok Ku Road from the Sheung Wan MTR exit.
Sin Sin Fine Art 52 Sai Street Central, Hong Kong
Mon - Sat : 9:30am - 6:30pm Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays