|The paintings and drawings of Valerie Jacobs are more subtle in their observations and paradoxes. You have to wait for the realizations of their irony to dawn on you. “Chicago Peace Rose 1945” might at first look be a botanical work of simple beauty. But wait, there’s an insect on a petal off to the side making its way to the heart of the rose. No human intervention is necessary here for the artist to drive her ironic commentary. Nature itself can be destructive of simple beauty.
In “Concertina” a spiraling web of razor wire is painted white against a pure azure. The wire circles upon itself and, in its musical configuration suggests to this writer the other type of concertina, a hand-held instrument similar to an accordion. Of course, no human hands can touch this material without suffering injury. Pondering the title and looking at the image, one is disturbed by the possibility of this ironic juxtaposition.
Jacobs makes delicate graphite drawings that are highly realistic. One, “Untitled (Mosquito),” depicts an extreme close-up of a mosquito feasting with its lance of a proboscis deep in human skin. Quiet intricacy is beautifully rendered here but painful o consider. As with other works of Jacobs’ in this show, the delicacy of the style stands in counterpoint to the ultimate effect of the image.
Representational art in paintings and drawing for quite some time now has subsumed the lessons of modernism, conceptual art, performance art and post-modernism. Figuration may well subvert itself, question and reinvent itself as it builds new forms of paradox and irony that are quite subtle. Such antinomies are invested in the art of Gillette and Jacobs. Giving voice to sensibilities that are distinctly of the historical moment, representation continues to be renewed.
Valerie Jacobs, “Chicago Peace
Rose 1945,” 2008, oil and
acrylic on canvas, 30 x 30”.
Valerie Jacobs, “Concertina,”
2008, oil on canvas, 30 x 30”.
Valerie Jacobs, “Untitled (Mosquito),”
2007, graphite on paper, 8 1/2 x 6 1/2”.