Carl Kostyál – Jess Valice: Human

7 April – 6 May, 2022

Preview: Wednesday, April 6th: 6-8PM

In Jess Valice’s recent paintings, it’s usually the eyes you notice first. Huge, heavy-lidded pools, resolute and weary, as if their owner had lately gone through something but was nevertheless holding on, engaging the world. But then, by contrast, there’s the ears: oversized, sometimes mismatched in colour and on occasion reddish, the artist deliberately clowning herself or her subjects. The who’s-who distinction is ambiguous; Valice’s portraits can look like near-dysmorphic caricatures of her own features, but even in double portraits, everyone she paints looks somewhat like her. Her cast of comic melancholics, then, at once shares a range of emotions—a generalised sadness, exhaustion, stoicism—while being aware that expressing uncut melancholy (and fixating on the self, even in a confessional age) can itself be a quick turnoff for others. And that, conversely, humour, self-deprecation and absurdism are ways to keep a viewer with you, as they find out that the work is relatable not just to its maker but to themselves.

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