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Jenny Carpenter, Branded

Article Projects at The Realform Girdle Building
218 Bedford Street, at North 5th Street, 212-772-2351
July 28 - September 30, 2006
Reception: Friday, July 28, 7 - 9 PM
Web Site

Jenny Carpenter focus as an artist is upon the many and varied manifestations of the female visage as it appears in the pages of glossy fashion magazines. She paints the faces as she finds them, upon a series of 12 by 12 inch birch panels, leaving the wood untreated and allowing the physical qualities of the wood grain to affect how her lines are drawn. Her paintings combine her influences in the working world with a particular notion of beauty, as well as all of the visual conceits that enter into the moment of aesthetic fascination when a beautiful woman appears on the printed page—a simulacra made palpable and commercial at the same time.

Carpenter focuses mainly upon close-ups, and the images among these that I preferred were limited to a frame of the eyes, mouth, and cheekbones, with the eyes gazing deeply back at the spectator. Carpenter’s need to portray women’s faces-and she paints only women-has found perfect repository in the commercially viable and yet ultimately short lived use of such magazines. Here is where women are most notably typified, and if one wants a pictorial jumping-off point, there is no context more widespread than this, whether the point is to offer an alternative pictorial treatment or to freely sample the traditional modes of emotional expression which fashion models are forced to espouse. The specifically successful aspect of her portraits is that they portray all women in depicting the nameless ciphers used to exemplify the sort of passion that sells couture. Carpenter’s paintings zoom past the trappings of the industry and reveal the fuel that runs it: emotional intimacy. She qualifies the essential humanness which makes models more than visceral clotheshorses.
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