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Jenny Carpenter, Madagascar

Article Projects at The Realform Girdle Building
218 Bedford Street, at North 5th Street, 212-772-2351
May 11 - June 10, 2007
Reception: Friday, May 11, 7 - 9 PM
Web Site

It goes without saying that all artists search for truth. Yet the manner and manifestation of that truth rely heavily upon the demands of talent and the rigor of what objectively fulfills an artist’s creative need. In the case of Jenny Carpenter, we have a painter whose work ardently and continuously ful-fills the desire to manifest character. In her newest body of work, Carpenter has moved beyond the culturally stamped impressions we find in fashion magazines, and has traveled to another marginal territory—the precincts of Madagascar, in Africa. What she found there speaks both to a sense of the universal and the `other’.

As the artists states: “My current work pulls from a recent trip to southern Africa, in particular, Madagascar, from the women that inhabit the remote villages on the islands off the west coast. I painted these women from a culture that I will never fully know. I found myself taken with their overt beauty, not in terms of their physical appearance, but rather in what was concealed behind the melancholy expression in their eyes. It was this lack of information that I found truly compel-ling, causing an unsettling feeling, a discomfort. I sought something greater from them than simply a pretty face or a diverted gaze. I wanted from them what is missing in myself.

I choose to paint on walnut, cherry or birch panels. I allow the grain of each panel to dictate the figure’s form, allowing the image to gradually emerge from within the grain. In the wood, the woman becomes quietly present, her story hidden in the layers of the grain. I choose to paint thinly - almost as a stain - taking from the wood as the women do, using the subtle colors each possesses to tell their story.”
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