Ideas & Influences

An artist’s DNA: Jessica Weiss

Jessica Weiss, Dressed to Kill, 2016, silkscreen, acrylic, collage, pushpins on burlap, 70 x 68 inches.

At Outlet Fine Arts through Sunday, in her first solo exhibition in eight years, Jessica Weiss presents dazzling large-scale paintings of life-sized animal hybrids. Mashups of big floral prints, the paintings feature tangles of collaged fabrics, screened floral prints, and painted patterns that coalesce into anxious four-legged creatures with mask-like faces.

Standing alone in densely patterned fields that both create and camouflage them, the figures seem to stare at the viewer, confused by their circumstances. Some look menacing and others amused, but all seem a bit lonely. The exhibition also includes smaller work on paper that has a more playful feel, but the larger paintings, more visually and emotionally complex, take the prize.

I asked Weiss to pick five artists who most influence her work, and here is her thoughtful, and sometimes surprising, response. Unsurprisingly, she had trouble whittling the list down to five.

1. Henri Matisse: I have a vivid childhood memory of standing in front of a small Matisse painting when suddenly I was jolted as the colored brushstrokes on the surface of the painting opened up into a vast landscape space. Matisse still surprises my eyes at every viewing.

2. Willem deKooning: His work continues to look fresh.

3. Phillip Guston: Constant searching and storytelling through paint. With humor.

4. Jacques Villeglé (and others from the Nouveau Realiste movement): In an effort to bring the outside world into their work, Villegl incorporated torn billboards into their abstract canvases. I experimented with wallpaper.

5. Elizabeth Murray: Wonderfully inventive painter, role model and friend.

And: Can I sneak in Robert Irwin by adding an influential book Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees by Lawrence Weschler?

And one exhibition: “Gee’s Bend Quilts” at the Whitney in 2003. Fantastic paintings made without paint.

A few subs who come into the line-up: Vuillard, Rousseau, James Turrell, Sigmar Polke, Jonathan Lasker, Bill Traylor

Jessica Weiss, Pin the Tail on the Tiger, 2016, silkscreen, acrylic, collage, pushpins on burlap 70 x 68 inches
Jessica Weiss, Padmasana, 2014, silkscreen, acrylic and collage on canvas, 70 x 68 inches.

Jessica Weiss: Pin the Tail on the Tiger,” Outlet Fine Art, Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY. Through May 22, 2016.

Related posts:
Images: Jessica Weiss
Pattern and Decoration revisted in Yonkers


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