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14 May 2010

Jenny Scobel at USCHI KOLB Gallery, Karlsruhe

Jenny Scobel
'Clack', 2010
pencil, watercolor,oil, wax on gessoed wooden panel, 86 x 61 cm
Courtesy Uschi Kolb Gallery

Jenny Scobel: Not in Nottingham
Uschi Kolb Gallery, Karlsruhe


Opening reception:
May 15, 2010, 6-8 pm
May 18 to July 2, 2010


+49 (0)721 - 180 56 018

Uschi Kolb Gallery
Lorenzstraße 18
D-76135 Karlsruhe

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With the exhibition Not in Nottingham, the gallery is delighted to present works by the American artist Jenny Scobel.

Jenny Scobel (b. 1955 in Orville, USA – she lives and works in New York) draws delicate portraits on wooden panels that have been prepared with a plaster and marble-dust ground and sealed with a protective layer of wax. The depicted figures – mostly women – are based on subjects taken from images in newspapers or magazines as well as famous works from the history of art – a few pictures show portraits of the artist's friends. A face, a head can reappear in different paintings, but always in front of a new background and provided with a 'foreign' body. In the more recent works, Jenny Scobel uses her own body as a model dressed in clothes selected from vintage stores.

The figures are portrayed in half-length poses, mostly frontally. They present themselves right up against the picture plane, directly surrendering their faces, bodies and gestures to the viewer's gaze.

Jenny Scobel's style of drawing is simultaneously both photorealistic and naïve. Fine shadings and delicate colouring subtly form the figures' individual traits. The wax layer allows the drawing and colours to shine through slightly, also interfering with them optically. This heightens the sculptural effect and reflects the haptic quality of skin. The bodies 'collaged' together from different sources combine different age groups; the proportions are also distorted. This type of drawing resembles the self-portraits in pencil made by teenagers. The stereotypical pose seems frozen for the portrait, the women wear unfashionable, extravagant clothes; nevertheless, individual physiognomic features are depicted with great attention. The bodies do not create a homogenous effect, which enlivens the figures, and adds to the expressiveness of their gazes. Their presence is simultaneously both still and insistent in a way that gets under the skin of the viewer.

The backgrounds are sometimes made up of flickering patterns, sometimes they show family homes, living rooms, gardens, cars – symbols of domestic happiness and familial harmony, but also attributes that are included in the picture in such a striking way that it is impossible to overlook their ironic character and a sense of social critique. In such a living environment, the figures seem as if caught in an emotional net – their melancholic gaze is directed inwards, as if filled with a sorrow of which the viewer can only have a vague idea.