Sunday, January 3, 2016

Jennifer Coates

There aren't many things I get a charge out of as much as art, but food is definitely one of them. Shortly after emerging from my Thanksgiving daze a month ago, I had the opportunity to combine the two with a day of drawing in Sunset Park. An entire wall of Jennifer Coates' studio is dedicated to her paintings of the food we love (and sometimes love to hate). A conversation on consumerism, the age of instant gratification, and abstract expressionism came to me while I worked. This with only a small portion of the paintings on the wall, pun intended.


The spontaneous mark found in a drizzle of nacho cheese excited me beyond my adoration of food. Coates is a painter's painter. She evokes the chaos of Pollock's drips in one canvas and divides a grilled cheese or doughnut down the middle like Barnett Newman's "zips" in another, while the landscape between two cookies of an ice-cream sandwich oozes with the same visceral qualities of a Joan Mitchell. Jennifer is analyzing the abstract in the everyday and making it more bewitching as she does so. We talked about how the subjects in this series relate to architecture, as they are shaped to be structurally sound or packaged in a perfect parallelogram. In a time where we can stuff ourselves visually looking at hundreds pictures of #lasagna on Instagram, the ocular punch of a food product is as important as its piquancy.

Needless to say, after drawing Jennifer's lasagna, I went out into the world looking for some of my own. Coates not only makes fantastic art, but also curates and writes about it as well. She is co-curating a show with Lauren Adams at Ortega Y Gasset called The Swerve that opens Jan 23. Also, she and her husband David Humphrey will have collaborative work in a show at Lorimoto Gallery in Ridgewood opening Jan 9. And if you find yourself in Kentucky, Coates currently has a painting on view at the University of Kentucky Art Museum. To see more of her work go here: www.jenniferlcoates.com.


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