SAVE THE DATE & PREVIEW: Jennybird Alcantara: “Reveries of the Untamed Darlings,” at KP Projects – Opening Reception March 17th
Jennybird Alcantara’s new solo show “Reveries of the Untamed Darlings,” that will be opening at KP Projects on Saturday, March 17th, is a curious and contemplative revelation down the winding path.
Her rich, detailed, and enigmatic oil paintings explore themes of the natural, instinctual part of humans, animals, and nature itself. “Reveries of the Untamed Darlings” imparts a tenebrous atmosphere where shadows and light lead to hidden destinations through lush botanical tapestries. Within this mysterious world, Jennybird’s iconic beings: naked hearts, armored animals, masked humans and hybrids, all invite the viewer to enter portals to the subconscious, surreal and the sublime.
Jennybird was kind enough to take some time out to give us a wonderfully detailed interview:
Is there a particular theme to this show?
It’s easier for me to talk about the feeling I have about the paintings this time, and I think the overarching feeling I have about this body of work is of the paintings acting as a meditation, an homage to precious and magical things and states of being. Oh and there’s a tiny naked impish heart with legs that’s hopped into many of the paintings so you’ll have to look hard to find him. He’s a mischievous little guy.
Would you say, rather than being conceived as an idea, your pieces evolve as you create them?
This is most definitely true for me and something I’ve talked about and even considered as not the “right or most efficient” way to work. It is, however, the most natural way for me and leads to the most exciting discoveries and conclusions. I do start out with an idea but it is just that, a starting point. If I labor too long over “what to do” before I dive in then the work feels contrived to me and doesn’t flow in the way that I like. It can sometimes be a frustration but I solve the problem of getting stuck by working on multiple paintings at once so I can move to another piece if I start feeling unsure of where to go, and almost always while I’m working on another painting, the solution or new idea comes for the one across the studio. This is also why I prefer to work on bodies of work rather than one piece at a time or a bunch of paintings for themed group shows.
Please describe the “inner worlds” of the character(s) in your pieces.
I feel like I’m always exploring “dreamland” or landscapes of the subconscious but this body of work has taken me more into a meditative state while working than ever before I think. Just the amount of tiny detail in many of the pieces; the process of actually painting all that takes me to a very calm place and kind of mutes the outside world, that has felt in the past year so chaotic and depressing.
My characters have an ebb and flow of inner and outer worlds converging. I’ve been doing what would be considered anthropomorphic work for probably 25 years, but that seems like too simplistic a word to describe where I’m at with my work now. There isn’t a lot distinction between landscape, plant life, and human, animal etc. all of these elements are a part of one another, everything is connected. But it isn’t just a random grouping; symbolism is incredibly important to me so I don’t just throw things that look cute together and call it a day. Every single element has its meaning and purpose for being there, I’m pretty strict with myself about that.
My paintings overwhelmingly speak for me of the heart and the inner world that we each have that’s all our own. It examines the soft and magical places we can find there but those inner worlds are also where the darker parts of ourselves hang out too. It’s about finding a harmony between these parts. It’s about truth and sometimes that hurts a little. I’ve talked about these winding paths that I have in many of my paintings and I had sort of an epiphany about them this year. Here in the front of the picture is that magical creature and all this activity going on but I see them on a path and they pretty much follow me throughout my life (or maybe it’s me following them). The little winding paths going into the dark woods or out in the far distance is where they are going next and I want to know whats there!
You seem to have a limitless imagination, does this emanate from your dreams?
People have said to me sometimes after looking at my work, “wow you must have some crazy dreams!” but sadly my dreams are more often than not anxiety dreams. I do day-dream a lot and try to get to that sliver space between being awake and being asleep, some serious magic can be found there. But really I see all my work on a continuum, and one idea just leads into the next, there’s always something I’m trying to finish at the last minute because of course when you’re deep into the art-making process, all the ideas are rushing in and I’m just trying to keep up.
Also, I’ve been making art for so long at this point there’s always something from the past to reexamine and explore and technically I can do more now so that’s always fun. I treasure my messy scribbly drawings on tracing paper and have flat files full. They aren’t technically great but they are like quick fever dream ideas where I’m not trying to “draw good” and I’m always going back at looking at those to get ideas too. Back before I learned how good for me working on multiple paintings is, I would get stuck in a piece and just sit staring in agony at it for hours and days on end. That’s not good. I love this Picasso quote “Inspiration exists but it has to find you working”
Your technique is outstanding; which artists have inspired or currently inspire you on a technical level? Outside of a seemingly limitless imagination, what sort of disciplines or work ethics do you apply to creating art?
Thank you. Currently, I’m being inspired a lot technically by the Dutch Still Life painters like Balthasar van der Ast and Frans Snyders, I love the chaos of Frans paintings and the tender attention to detail even in the most frenzied scene.
As far as my discipline and work ethic it’s this, ‘no life’ , haha but seriously I keep a pretty exhausting painting schedule when I’m working on a large body of work. It’s important for me to stay focused and immersed in it because every time I take even a day or two off, it takes so much time to get back in the “zone”. So needless to say, this past year there hasn’t been much play time for me and I work long hours 7 days a week. I’m not saying that’s healthy or advocating for that though, just being honest but I truly would like a bit more balance.
Jennybird Alcantara – Reveries of the Untamed Darlings
March 17th – April 14th, 2018
Saturday March 17, 7-10pm
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
170 S. La Brea Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Taming the Beast
Tiger Flower Study Two
Detail: Menagerie of Adored Peculiars
Detail: Hitching Ride Sphinx