In our cultural desire for flash and attention, fashion can be a potent and seductive means of identity formation — a fantasy aggressively expanding its value as a commodity beyond the means for any real satisfaction. This series of paintings and collages by Jennifer Nehrbass, focuses on style as a sublime element of tension within beauty.
Thematically they evoke modern dilemmas of what it means to see and be seen in manner that is simultaneously ancient and contemporary. Ambiguity, realism and fantasy play atmospherically in a narrative moment akin to magic realism.
Drawn from a Victorian obsession with sex and death, these paintings speak to forbidden thoughts and desires and also suggest that what is hidden and forbidden inside the painting is ultimately denied to the viewer. What the paintings yield is an intimacy of time and place that meanders through rich details and nuanced perplexity — bafflement being as necessary to the experience of viewing as is delicate reasoning.