Text and photos by Clare Gemima
The New Jersey raised and hilariously edgy painter Jamian Juliano-Villani showcases 11 paintings in Mrs. Evan Williams, her third solo show at JTT Gallery.
After getting to know Jamian through her online presence and impressive list of press, her paintings speak for themselves and indulge in her wacky sense of humor, unpredictable juxtapositions and to me establish her presence in the New York art scene — her career has only just begun.
Seeing how she works, laying down surfaces with paint, then projecting onto the canvas to compose her pieces and then repainting again and so on and so forth builds a crass narrative that’s psychologically challenging and morbidly personal.
She makes these works while getting through a pack and a half of smokes a day, another attribute to the painter that bleeds into her work. I know it sounds weird, but this artist looks and sounds like the paintings in her show — that might just be my take.
While discussing her modes of making and navigating her studio, she describes herself as a vessel. In one of her more graphic works, Replace Phosphates Without Compromising Functionality, a Relief ; I believe her diagnosis is visualized. This work is the first large scale piece you will see in the main room of the gallery and is recommended to soak in on an empty stomach.
The work depicts a slender female object crawling out of the most magnificently painted pink toilet in a pastel themed bathroom. You can put 2 and 2 together from my photography, but the stare from the subject is absolutely mesmerizing and, of course, off-putting.
The painting has turned a private moment into a torturously grotesque, almost animated and caricatured hell-ride. It was by far my favorite work in the show and one of the few pieces that included a sculptural element, leaving a foldable step-stool in front of the canvas, presumably for the relief to be relieved of its nasty journey.
This show includes works that are intervened with, as described above, smaller paintings, non-conventionally framed works and a whole back wall of the gallery wallpapered as an office/board meeting scene. This show is mostly flat but plays with other tools to include sound, light and the internet through QR codes, suggesting that the artist is branching out with her materials and sculptural play.
Another work, Origin of the World, highlights the artist’s nod to the revolutionary Courbet work from the 1800s. Highlighting the problematic nature of the work, the painter throws shade by creating her own hodge-podge of nonsensical, penis-bearing creatures.
Jamian Julaino-Villani again places uncomfortably confronting subject matter directly in the eye line of the viewer (I am 5’4 for reference), which the gallery has described as sophomoric in nature. I, however, feel as though it is weirdly sophisticated, especially with its gorgeously decorative border and terribly calculated composition layout. Another winner for me.
This show will get you excited about contemporary painting that is graphic, bold and not shy about being absolutely vile to look at. For a giggle and gag and everything in between, Mrs. Evan Williams will be on show at JTT Gallery until Jan. 23.
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Clare Gemima is a visual artist from New Zealand. New-ish to the East Village, she spends her time as an artist assistant and gallery go-er, hungry to explore what's happening in her local art world. You can find her work here: claregemima.com