Jenny Wu: It Depends February 15th – March 16th, 2024 Morton Fine Art 52 O St NW, Unit 302 Washington, DC 20001
Morton Fine Art is pleased to announce It Depends, a solo exhibition of new sculptural paintings by artist Jenny Wu. Returning with a new body of work following last year’s Ai Yo! (2023), Wu’s restless experimentation and curiosity continue to drive her exploration of composition, colour, control, chance and surprise. Her studio practice tends to rigorously review and reuse; the seeds of one series are often born out of observations, lessons learned or leftover parts of another series.
Expanding her technique with new formal and perceptual approaches, It Depends shines, blends and even tricks the eye, introducing elements of gradient and newfound illusion and depth into her work. Wu’s second solo exhibition with the gallery, It Depends, will be on view from February 15 – March 16, 2024 at Morton’s Washington, D.C. space (52 O St NW 302).
Continuing to build on her core practice, It Depends features Wu introducing a number of new forms and approaches: blending and gradient patterns, works on a hexagon panel, and works embedded with other designs and fragments (what Wu linkens to a “frame-in-frame” composition). Intimating nesting digital screens or forms behind glassy, opaque fields, these visual associates are incidental to Wu.
Frequently sized at 36 x 12 in., Wu’s narrow, flowing gradient works (e.g. Reset to Zero at the Border Control, (2023)) remind her passingly of Chinese landscape and scroll painting; in her practice of change and surprise, it is interesting that some incidental elements are inescapable. To create all her works, the artist pours thick coats of latex paint onto silicone surfaces, allowing each layer to in turn dry completely before adding another layer of latex; Wu then cuts the accumulated paint to reveal layers of colorful cross-sections, often touched by chance elements. Using these cross-sections as her base units, Wu assembles her paintings, building up relief, depth, illusion and a minimalist’s sense of embodied paint, piece by piece.
Exploring new forms upon which to build her sculptural paintings, Wu has come to embrace the hexagon panel, finding in it a range of compositional and material opportunities. As can be seen in A Useless Tree Is A Tree (2023), Wu exploits the formal qualities of the hexagon to draw out and accentuate her sensation- and perception-minded use of color, volume and illusion.
Enlivened by her material, temporal approach to paint, the work twists with a thick perceptual frisson. Wu’s “frame-in-frame” paintings double down on her longstanding interest in transformation and in recording and embodying time, labor and incident. The result of Wu embedding rectangle forms into a larger frame that she then filled with paint, the shimmering vertical rectangles of dark turquoise and dull yellow in I Cringe Every Time I Have To Say My Name Backwards (2023) simultaneously foreground and underpin the work. The painting teases at collage and self-reference. But with I Cringe Every Time… Wu is far more interested the effects of time and accumulation than any conceptual associations.
Titles continue to occupy an important, refracted role amid Wu’s practice. Moving on from sourcing her titles predominantly from the internet, Wu’s new titles spring diary-esque from the everyday. Wu notes down an interesting thought whenever one comes to her, adding overheard comments, wry faux-quotations and tidbits from the news to a running list over which she later reviews, choosing some to title new works. The titles and her approach to assembling and assigning them (often at random and by chance or wim) compound the constructive, layered and change elements of Wu’s paintings.
All the while demonstrating a greater feel and technique for pouring, drying and composing wet and dried paint—cracking that used to be a frequent element of the drying process is now far less present—It Depends finds Wu extending and deepening her practice, at once a refinement and a risk.
Jenny Wu: It Depends opens on February 15th until March 16th, 2024, at Morton Fine Art
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