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Play by Jessica Lichtenstein

Gallery Nine5
24 Spring Street, 212-965-9995
November 18 - December 15, 2011
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gallery nine5 is pleased to present Play, an exhibition of recent works by Jessica Lichtenstein. For her second solo show at the gallery, Lichtenstein explores the relationship between materialism and sexuality through the recontextualization of popular Japanese erotic imagery.

Fascinated by the mass‐production and fetishism of hyper‐sexualized Japanese figurines, Lichtenstein juxtaposes mass‐produced anime dolls and pornographic comic book characters in ironic situations in order to imbue them with new associations and richer meanings. Lichtenstein challenges her audience to engage with and question the function of these images from a Western perspective; to weigh how much of the images’ sexuality is ascribed by the spectator.

Expanding on her last exhibition, Lichtenstein still works with Japanese female figurines and inserts them into real-world situations from cooking, to shopping, to getting ready for a night out on the town. Each figurine is given stereotypical Western accoutrements like bottles of champagne, designer shoes and bags, and shelves of nail polish. However, with her second show, Lichtenstein moves a step further to create imagined landscapes, and expands her media to include graphic design, 3D text sculptures, light boxes and fabric. The artist strives for the presentation of her work to echo her ideas – art should ultimately entertain. Lichtenstein reveals her playful nature with complex pieces that divulge their depth only with a closer look – a cherry tree image on a light box is actually a composite of X-rated sirens.

In her pieces you can see both feminism and fetishism but ultimately Lichtenstein’s main concern is that the viewer enjoys the journey. The viewer is asked to re-examine the nature of enticement – are the accompanying phrases and speech bubbles amatory or garish? Each vignette in Lichtenstein’s installations is a slate upon which the viewer may consider his or her own notions of sexuality. “You can see this in the way people are drawn to certain of the pieces-both men and women. The piece becomes a sort of Rorschach Test-and what people see are themselves, their fantasies, their aspirations and in the words of Shakespeare, the girls hold ‘a mirror up to nature’.”

Citing her rigorous education in art history and classic literature as the most formative influences on her stylistic development, Lichtenstein also draws inspiration from New York’s pervasive art scene and her conception of the ‘amorphous and cross‐cultural’ nature of contemporary art. Adding her vision to the plethora of depictions of the female form by artists throughout time, Lichtenstein is turning tradition on its head.

Following her last exhibition at gallery nine5, Lichtenstein received much attention from international press. The artist’s work is already in some of the homes of the most important pop-art collectors, and held in private collections in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, New York, Palm Beach, Beverly Hills, Nice, London, Paris and Madrid. Most recently, Lichtenstein participated in and sold out her work at the SCOPE New York Art Show.
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