Austin Artist Talk with Jacqueline Humphries; Stencils and Florescence

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Installation view, Black Light Paintings, Nyehaus, New York, 2005

*telephone rings*

Humphries: Hello?

There has been a fire…

Carnival or Museum?

After a devastating fire in her studio, all of her previous work had been destroyed. “Good riddance!” Humphries exclaimed. Her previous work was a burden on her creative process so she took the opportunity for a fresh start and began experimenting with layering florescent paints on canvas. Humphries searched to redefine florescent colors in a more serious abstract representation. Her studio is a dark place, a place where everything is specifically organized so that she can work efficiently without sight. On display at Carnegie Museum of Art in 2015, the large ultraviolet works towered over the viewers as their eyed were locked on the illuminating surfaces. These works transcend the meaning of fluorescence in the gallery, creating an immersive experience for viewers to indulge in its’ glowing manifest.

‘Conspiracy of two inadequacies’

Her current work focuses heavily with stencils but with the recent availability of laser cutters Humphries is able to transform an idea directly to the canvas in about an hour. She applies a thicker more viscous paint on top of the stencil pushing it into the canvas like icing a cake. These works depict the repetition of language as symbol, using “emoticons” such as the colon placed next to a parenthesis to depict an emotion. As a symbol is repurposed infinitely the meaning changes although its origins stay the same. These figures are organized on top of Humphries canvas, demanding uniformity in imperfection. Whether they are covered or in the foreground the rigidness from the stencil-made shape can still be recognized. The works question our lives living alongside screen technology. Screens take up a majority of our attention spans; Humphries uses relatable symbols to juxtapose the attention given to a painting in a gallery. Humphries enjoys the ritual of painting with stencils as it grants instant gratification and self-discovery. As a painter her initial intention is to grab the viewers’ attention and with her use of symbols Humphries can form subliminal connections used to lure the observer.

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