Evan Senn, YAYLA: Jenene Nagy


By Evan Senn
September 21, 2015

Jenene Nagy’s graphite-based work is seductive and illusive.

Dark, shimmering plains, angles and textures shine into your peripheral vision with shifting light in Jenene Nagy’s artwork. Shards of fragile, darkness glimmer and change with every glance. Through use of graphite, paper and her own hands, Nagy creates evocative works of art that are visually hypnotic and conceptually powerful, with a delicate structure.

Along with a rigorous studio practice, Nagy is one half of the curatorial team TILT Export:, an independent art initiative with no fixed location, working in partnership with a variety of venues to produce exhibitions. From 2011-12 she was the first Curator-in-Residence for Disjecta Contemporary Art Center in Portland, Oregon. Currently Nagy serves on the board of ART PAPERS magazine as well as teaches drawing and painting at UC Riverside.

The pristine, multi-faceted cut of a diamond elevates its worth and status, right? Well, Nagy uses diamond cut patterns as a start for her graphite abstractions, helps us find that insecure and tense space in our perception of objects. Using a tireless process similar to that of diamond carvers, Nagy creates two- and three-dimensional multi-faceted surfaces in her works to explore this value-making process with an alternate material, transforming her materials into an object of worth.

For her solo exhibition at Garboushian Gallery in Beverly Hills, Nagy is showing a variety of pieces, most, in response to a culture based on class–perfect location for the subversive commentary on our consumerist culture.

Nagy’s work finds strength in structure and in space, with help from the viewers as well. As light changes and as the viewers move around the objects, the facets of each piece become more pronounced and the time and energy put into each shining surface helps to build up its glamorous façade and value, much like a diamond. This allows the spectator to control and manage their engagement with the work, and activating the pieces in dynamic ways, allowing for complexities to unfurl slowly. Nagy’s work is a testament to the human interaction with material and perception.

“Forgetting the name” explores the act of looking, and focuses on the inherent opportunity that art can have, giving viewers a unique experience without preconception. Approaching something without presumption helps to open up the experience for a new kind of understanding. Taking note from Robert Irwin’s book, Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees, Nagy uses this theme as a launching point for further consideration of experience and perception in her work.