Finding Personal Space in “Solitary”
Jillian Evelyn at Artists Republic
On view through October 1st
By Evan Senn
Los Angeles-based artist Jillian Evelyn has a fascinating artistic voice that is setting her apart from other artists in the New Contemporary. Creating a visual conversation with art history, the personal feminine spirit, and design, Evelyn’s colorful creations teeter on the brink of a visual diary entry and perfectly decorative design. The works on display in Evelyn’s first solo exhibition at Artists Republic Gallery, “Solitary,” are expressive personal moments of the female characters Evelyn creates. Confined in their square canvas spaces, these females are awkwardly bending, moving and contorting their bodies to fit inside the artistic frames of the artist’s canvases. As if solitary moments for these females, Evelyn’s creations peer into the personal space of each character, finding unique and humdrum moments in their heads to hone in on.
Evelyn has focused the majority of the work in this exhibit on the female emotions. Finding relief in Need, a pink colored woman haphazardly hugs a man’s chest and neck with her thighs. Aiming for peace in Balance, a pink colored woman in performing yoga with her green colored partner, as he pushes her down with his weight—she does not seem amused. Many of the colorful femmes seem less than excited about their squished and contorted spaces and places; with rolling eyes and lazy hands, these femmes seem to have accepted their private moment.
Evoking the static spirit of Egyptian figurative relief and the contemporary energy of surf and skate design, Evelyn’s artworks situate themselves perfectly between interesting and relevant design practices. She simultaneously maintains the subtle ‘I don’t give a fuck’ attitude of popular femme icons like Lana Del Rey, Nikki Minaj, or Lena Dunham in her creations.
The visuals used in the works are attractive and hypnotic, recalling the colorful works of Shag and Karl Benjamin, but the playful line work, awkward bodies and expressive faces of Evelyn’s femmes bring the representations closer to home. The most interesting aspect of these works is their conceptual whimsy and emotional core. The double entendre meanings in the works is clever and poetic and reminds viewers of the relevancy for everyone. Much like an episode of GIRLS or a Warsan Shire poem, these works hit your core like an arrow, pulling your heart strings ever-so-slightly and reminding you that we are all the same—these moments and these feelings are ours, collectively, uniquely, and specific to our time here and now. The brightly colored skin removes any individuality and keeps the message clear and approachable.
Holding On holds onto her dying plant, perhaps her dying love, her wilting youth, her equality, or her motivation to try; it holds on with lazy hands—she is unsure of the ifs, whys and hows of her holding on, yet she continues. Shape of Mind is trying to use her body to shape the rest of her world. Surrounded by unsure and wonky shapes, she bends and moves her body in altered shapes to try and match her mind’s strange and specific mode, perhaps trying to match her outside to her inside.
“Solitary” is on view at Artists Republic through October 1, 2017. 400 West Disney Way, Ste. 137; Anaheim Gardenwalk, Anaheim, CA.