Jenny Hankwitz: Cheryl Pelavin Fine Artby Rachel Youens
Jenny Hankwitz - Cheryl Pelavin Fine Art
The immediate impression of Jenny Hankwitz’s paintings crisp, bright paintings is that they express a release from restraint. Unabashedly ornamental, Hankwitz assimilates mark making from pop, but instead evoke nature’s prolific order rather than a critique of our cultural icons and clichés. Even so, her forms and methods pay homage to an artist like Lichtenstein while her motifs of splats, splashes and French curves retain the familiar sound effects of comics. For instance, a splash will splay out centrically from the center with abandon and playfully dive across the surface, but cultivate the effect of song rather than signify conflict.
The strongest works are vertically formatted paintings that Hankwitz made during a six-month residency in Roswell, New Mexico. For a number of years now, her working method has been to prepare her design by reworking preliminary drawings on a computer before she begins a canvas
In New Mexico she experienced the fluctuations in weather and scale, and he indescribable delicacy of color from the surrounding landscape. It was there that Hankwitz established new types of forms, abandoning her former use of ribbon like networks. Pre-mixing up to five colors, she takes on the role of sign painter, with workman like yet balletic results. Each canvas playfully combines deep chromatic tones with muted pastels, as in The Pulse, where a peach and powdery blue splatter above a swerving black and white arabesque, while higher chromas of pink and heated reds splatters across the foreground. Hankwitz’s color choices skillfully delineate and slice across layers of depth. In Cool Starry Night, pastels soar above deep and lush gray greens. With their references to microscopic imagery, these paintings leave behind questions of meaning, and go instead for optimal impact. Yet as abstractions, they have a feeling of both fragmentation and immediacy.
Rachel Youens is a painter, writer, and teacher who lives in Brooklyn.