Jenyshin’s Paintings Run the Gamut of Emotions
Walk, Paintings29 x 24
I love to express my feelings through color,” says the young Korean-born artist Jenny Shin, who paints under the sobriquet of Jenyshin. And indeed her palette is a chromatic keyboard of subtle hues, making every picture a veritable piano solo of her varied moods, ranging from the hopeful sweetness of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” to the majestic melancholy of “Rhapsody in Blue.”
In order to paint so candidly one must risk emotional vulnerability. Or, as the artist herself puts it: “I’m very honest when I paint. People who know me see it in my work. It reflects so much of me that sometimes I don’t always like showing it to just anyone, as it is so revealing. Most of my work has never been seen, even by my closest friends.”
Thus sharing her painting in the present exhibition is an act of intimacy, of trust for Jenyshin, as seen in the mixed media work in oils and pastel on canvas she calls “In Your Room,” which sounds like a slightly more guarded play on the title of the The Beach Boys song “In My Room.” Depicting a pretty young Asian woman who resembles a photo one has seen of the artist herself, it appears to be, if not a literal self-portrait, then an emotional evocation of a state of mind. Long black hair falling like a shiny shawl to her shoulders, withdrawn into solitude, her eyes lowered, the figure studies an open book rather listlessly, her thoughts seemingly somewhere else.
Here, as in other paintings by Jenyshin, the artist's mixed media technique of oil and pastel or oil and crayon on canvas enables her to achieve a chromatic subtlety reminiscent of the French painter Odilon Redon. Quite the opposite of Jenyshin, however, who found her true m�tier early, Redon avoided color for the first fifty years of his life, working only in charcoal and lithography, before discovering his true mediums of pastels and oils.
Fortunately Jennyshin gravitated immediately to color and employs it with Redon-like radiance in “7PM,” a floral study in acrylic and crayon on canvas, the surrounding space flecked with bits of blue-green and violet that make it as shimmeringly vital as the pale pink and green petals themselves.
Since she follows her moods rather than the dictates of a “signature style,” her imagery ranges from the little red dog in “In the Beginning,” as perky as ToTo in “The Wizard of Oz,” trotting along a fanciful landscape, to the stylized green table-setting, huge fork, and tiny chairs in “Family Dinner,” to the grotesque little figure in “Okay World.” With her oversize head, blue bangs, and sunken cheeks giving a skeletal aspect like Munch’s famous screamer, this figure resembles one of those cute little big-eyed waifs, once so ubiquitous in kitsch decor, after a run of bad luck, her long hair hanging limply over one scrawny shoulder sticking out of a shrunken red boatneck sweatshirt, her pale belly bare as it tapers into a pair of red bikini panties. The title of the painting is intriguingly ambiguous: Does “Okay World” mean that the lush green bush dotted with sunny yellow flowers on the right side of the composition makes the world an okay place to be, or is the strange little girl saying “Okay world, take me or leave me as I am?”
Only the artist knows for sure; but one gets the impression that Jenyshin prefers to let her paintings speak eloquently for themselves. –– Peter Wylie
Jenyshin, Agora Gallery, 530 West 25th St., through April 16, 2013. Reception: Thursday, April 4, 6 -8 pm.
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