Review: “Brad Jones: Diptychs” at Sargent’s Daughters

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It is an exhibition of portraits – of the same portrait.

Or, at least, of the same subject.

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Some are abstract washes where the human figure is only lightly discerned.

Others are more complete, the sitter’s veins painted in vivid blues and greys.

Some appear finished, others only partially.

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Brad Jones: Diptychs, on view at Sargent’s Daughter’s through December 21, 2014, is mesmerizing. An ongoing collaboration between artists Brandi Twilley and Jennifer Rubell, Brad Jones was created as a fictional alter ego to represent the two collaborators (and to playfully critique the stereotype of the aggressive American male painter). The project is the result of a strict structure: The two artists met three times a week for two hours. Twilley painted and Rubell posed nude.

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The result is a range of portraits of Rubell. Some exhibit a heavy degree of abstraction. Others take on a more realist approach. Despite the differences in expression, Twilley’s hand remains clear throughout. The palette, the textures, the brushstrokes create a continuity from canvas to canvas. With her background in figuration, Twilley successfully reveals the perspectives of sight an artist is offered. Rather than select one point-of-view, she presents the nuances of them all.

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For Rubell, an artist with a history of performance works and ephemeral installations, her contribution becomes the act of sitting where each painting becomes a document of the action. Indeed, the artists’ describe the project as one that addresses the role of traditional painting and the subject. With the artist as sitter, her subjectivity is heightened. She moves from a passive position, to one full of tremendous force.

Combining portraiture, performance, institutional critique and painting, Brad Jones hit on something that hasn’t quite been seen before: The collaborative possibilities of performance art and painting. Hopefully, he – or they – are just beginning.

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For more information visit Sargent’s Daughters. All photographs are courtesy of the gallery.

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