Jill Moser: Play, Replay
Lennon Weinberg, Inc.
514 West 25th Street, New York
April 27 – June 17, 2017
Play Replay is Jill Moser’s fifth solo exhibition at Lennon, Weinberg; the most recent was in 2014. She has long expressed an interest in the arrested image. “I am after an image that is caught as it is made, caught in the act, held in suspended animation.” She sees the gestural mark as a snapshot of its own enactment, and has often used a direct method of pressing paper over a wet line to echo the mark by transferring it back from the paper to canvas, creating a stutter effect like successive frames of film. She is fascinated as well by the medium of film itself, specifically the native way in which an image is captured as it is recorded in increments of time.
Silking is one of the smaller but key paintings in the exhibition. “Silking” is also a filmmaking technique to diffuse an image by placing a sheer fabric between camera and subject. The title is particularly fitting for the airy delicacy of the painting, so reductive as to suggest a shadow cast by something offstage. On an additional level, “silk” acknowledges the role of silkscreening in all but one of the paintings in the show.
As she has recently explored in monoprinted silkscreens, editions in etching and lithography and a series of cut-and-paste collages, Moser continues to pursue reiteration and the juxtaposition of the mechanical and the handmade. Last year, she chose a painted composition of wide brushstrokes, photographed it, and after dividing the image into two sections, had large silkscreens made for the purpose of printing all or portions of one or both of the screens directly onto the surface of prepared canvases. The duplicated representation of the spontaneous mark set up the ground and established the topography for the paintings that followed. “As in all printmaking, it distanced what was familiar, offering an invitation and provocation to respond to.”
Play Replay is an apt title for this body of work, as there is a deft touch of both wit and rigor in these new paintings. As she began the series, Moser’s response to the printed ground was mostly to mime her own hand on top of the printed image, reiterating her broad sweeps with more saturated hues in closely related values. As the work progressed, she played tricks with the screens – rotating, inverting, stacking, and allowing incidents and accidents to yield unexpected structures. In the diptych Jump Cut, Moser draws attention to the constructed nature of the painting by deliberately siting the boundary edges in the middle of each panel and by establishing an asymmetry suggestive of multiple views of the same subject.
There is a restraint and austerity in many of the chromatically subdued works in the exhibition despite the vivacity of Moser’s mark-making. Vertigo, one of three large paintings from 2017, is composed of a neighboring set of harmonious hues over the translucent screened layer: tangles of darting, arcing lines in greys, pale violet and periwinkle blue. Higher Ground, on the other hand, dances with a strong complementary orange pressed toward the top of a composition drifting upward and rightward, like sunlight on clouds, the grey-blue lines below the shady underside, floating out of our field of vision.
The vibrant Tracking brings this body of work to a crescendo. Moser’s deployment of the underlying screened image appears the most unpremeditated and intuitive, the tracks of fluorescent pink and dark grey ebullient and unconstrained as she responds to the shifting planes of the underlying structure. Exploring further how the silkscreens stage the paintings, Moser puts into play more provisional marks and incidents that echo and animate what is fixed but instigated by the screen.
In all of this work, a strategic ambiguity achieves pictorial certainty even as things are not what they seem.