27 November 2011

Jessica Lichtenstein - Play at gallery nine5

Jessica Lichtenstein is very much the up and coming artist. Her work has already caused something of a stir and is owned by some of the major pop art collectors. So when her new exhibition of work – Play – opened at gallery nine5 in New York I simply had to take a peek.

Lichtenstein certainly has the ability to challenge.  What we see in this new exhibition looks, on scant inspection, to be Japanese anime dolls – with scant frankly being the operative word! Yet closer inspection (and these figurines certainly demand that) we see that some of our expectations have been usurped. The heightened sexuality of the anime girls is juxtaposed by the often very humdrum nature of the things that they are doing.

This recontextualization is something of a jolt to the system: and that is the challenge presented to us by Lichtenstein (no relation to Roy, incidentally).  View these figures from a western perspective and how much is their sexuality ascribed by us? What attributes do we endow them with on a subconscious level without too much thought?

This is indeed a provocative mix of fetishism and feminism. These vignettes make more than one demand but forefront is that we consider our own notions of sexuality. Lichtenstein takes this a step further by introducing images of these eastern sirens on objects of furniture – revealed only when you are up close.  A cherry tree pattern on a chair can turn in to something quite different.

If the few images (and I have included the less racy ones, believe me!) have wetted your appetite, you should visit the website of gallery nine5 who have produced a very fluid ecatalogue of this exhibition. If you are lucky enough to live or be visiting the city then you can find gallery nine5 at 24 Spring Street, New York, NY 10012. The exhibition is open until December 15.