in the mood for
This week we visited the Modern Love Club gallery and spoke with artist Jenna Gribbon about her current exhibition “I Promise I Won’t Paint You While You’re Sleeping”. The show caught our attention because of Gribbon's beautiful, yet unusual aesthetic - mixing historical and contemporary techniques and subject matters. While intriguing on its own, her work became even more captivating as she described her thought processes surrounding each piece. In this selection of paintings, she explores the role of the muse, the identity of artists, and the perception of women.
"Self- Portrait with bathers, flowers and fruit"
One of our favorite paintings of hers is a work titled “Self-Portrait with Bathers, Flowers and Fruit” in which she challenges the stereotypical perception of an artist. She paints herself with a mustache, wearing a beret, while smoking. In the painting, she’s standing in front of a canvas and nude model. She pokes fun at this scenario by picturing the model with a bright blue towel wrapped her head, putting a bikini top and goofy sunglasses on her, and clearly displaying the model’s stark white ass in contrast to her sun tanned body. She amplifies the ridiculousness of it all by adding a cluster of grapes to the corner.
"A Young woman is surprised to find herself in a lee miller painting"
Her inclusion of fruit in this painting isn’t unusual. Fruit has become a repetitive symbol in her work. In the painting “A Young Woman is Surprised to Find Herself in a Lee Miller Painting” Gribbon throws flying bananas and grapes onto the canvas. She mentions these as last minute, but vital components to the painting. She not so subtly hints at their symbolism of male artists and their frequent role of placing women artists in the shadow. While she’s closely connected to all of her works, Gribbon mentions this as one of her favorites - mostly because she could never recreate it, or anything like it. It is one of her few paintings she worked on while working on others. Her choice of Lee Miller as a subject was a definitive choice based on the desire to recognize Miller as an artist herself, while encouraging discussion around her relationship with Man Ray and her role as his muse.
"Chrissy taking reference photos for her painting"
The complicated and troubling perception of the muse is a subject matter Gribbon continually returns to. In her painting “Chrissy Taking Reference Photos for her Painting”, Gribbon paints a group of friends, all nude, at a routine creative women’s gathering. She includes her friend Chrissy photographing the nude friends as material for her own work. Chrissy, the artist in this situation, is naked just as her subjects. This painting depicts a collaborative creative process between artist and muse. It turns the supposed identity of the muse and artist on its head and turns the artist into a muse and the muse into an artist - the relationship feels raw and authentic as does the rest of Gribbon’s work.
To learn more visit the Modern Love Club. If you have the chance to hear Gribbon speak, most definitely do. If not, Amy Van Doran, the lovely matchmaker, gallery owner, and dedicated Gribbon’s fan, is highly knowledge about the work and is sure to share some valuable insight.
Check it out at 156 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10009
Words by Carly Smith