- Gouache on paper, 29"x19", 2018.
Raised in a big family in the rolling countryside of Wisconsin, painter Jenny Kemp has exploration in her blood, spending summer days running free in the fields uncovering magic. A child could do that then. Now, as an adult, she moves freely through the fields of color and line in the terrain of her paintings. But attaining that type of artistic freedom takes a while, and it's an ongoing process.
While working towards her MFA at SUNY Albany, Kemp lost her way in the studio. She had experience as a graphic designer, so a professor suggested that she try something digital. This prompt led Kemp to create stop-motion animations based on her paintings, essentially liberating her imagery by adding the dimension of time.
Though she ultimately returned to painting, what Kemp unearthed through her brief foray into animation was a desire for her hand-brushed paintings to capture "the beauty that growth offers—the energy that moves through." The stripes that animate the biomorphic forms in works such as "Pressed," which is on the cover of this month's magazine, carry that energy and help create the sense of an ongoing process temporarily arrested at a revelatory moment.
Twelve paintings by Kemp are on display at the Carrie Haddad Gallery as part of the show "Pulse: Color & Form in a Visual Rhythm" until September 15. The compositions, some acrylic on linen, some gouache on paper, are mostly centered, though not rigidly so. The creative imprecision of the unaided human hand is everywhere felt. All those stripes? Free-handed one by one, reflecting the focused efforts of a painter using her art to delve into the mysteries of life embodied. She made "Pressed" shortly after giving birth to her son and the painting was a continuation of a series about the experience of breastfeeding. The title refers to both the sense of pressure evoked by the painting's compositional momentum and the time limitations and tensions of being a new mother.
Though not a meditator, Kemp reports that when immersed in her repetitive process, "time operates in a different way." Deaccelerated, highly focused—the slow reveal. The compositions have been sketched loosely in a notebook and she has a good idea of where her signature zip-like stripes will go. But the colors run deep to that place where decisions are felt out, not thought out. Sometimes the colors reveal their necessity in the painting process, where the brush meets the substrate, and the artist's eye watches as the bloom of the image unfolds. The ongoing dance of biomorphic form and energizing stripes gives rise to the evolving work, including passages that could be perceived as peripheral moments but are actually seeds of surprise.
Kemp's wordless narratives of embodied truth are open-ended. Dispatches sent back from an unfolding voyage of discovery. The artist states, "Once things get towards overt territory that's when I change path towards open ground."
- Photo: Anna Sirota
- Chronogram sales development lead Thomas Hansen enjoys the food and drink donated by Sloop Brewing Company at the August Chronogram Conversation.
- Photo: Victor Schrager
- A portrait from Amy Goldman Fowler’s new book The Melon.