gallery nine5 is pleased to present a new body of work by New York artist Jessica Lichtenstein. Afterglow is the third solo exhibit by the artist at the gallery, and marks a transition from superflat subject matter of hypersexualized Japanese figurines to an emotional narrative.
Known for her large acrylic “word sculptures” that serve as a playground for frolicking female figures, Lichtenstein will juxtapose these works with new sculptures that present a contemplative environment for her signature lascivious heroines. While still examining facets of femininity and fetishism, Afterglow offers an emotional lens through which to examine relationships. Unlike Undressed and Play, previous exhibitions at the gallery, Lichtenstein’s new show manifests sexuality in a delicate and sensitive way and thus invites the viewer to bask in the “afterglow” of desire.
The four circular sculptures of the Seasons series are inspired by nature as a metaphor for the cycle of relationships – pink blossoms bursting from the trees in Spring, or the iced over world of Winter. These works also highlight the tension between the individual vs. the collective. Each girl is poised in a different position and is reacting to the environment, however together the figures unite in a singular image of a tree and its leaves, thus describing the collective strength of women regardless of differences in emotions and reactions.
Alongside the Seasons are Lichtenstein’s word sculptures which toy with the pornographic world of Japanese-inspired comic books. Creating her own imagined fantastical landscapes infused with a highly sexualized environment, Lichtenstein places appropriated heroines in scenes that are reminiscent of Renoir’s, Cezanne’s or Picasso’s “nude bathers”; scenes that harken back to a time of “female as muse.” The works, layered behind a thick buffer of acrylic, take a critical distance from their own content and in fact, beg the viewer to do the same. Through this intermediary, the viewer is asked to engage with and question whether Lichtenstein’s characters are depicted solely to satisfy an insatiable male-dominated gaze, or if such a theory is too narrow, neglecting to address the complex nature of women and their agency in terms of sexuality and desirability.
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. She has previously exhibited at SCOPE NY, SCOPE Miami, and Art Southampton and will be showing her work with gallery nine5 at Art Miami in December 2013.