Winston Wächter Fine Art, New York, is excited to announce A Perfect Storm, an exhibition of new work by Jessica Lichtenstein. This immersive exhibition of digital, sculptural, and installation work is a direct response to the rare combination of volatile conditions – covid pandemic, economic instability, racial reckonings, polarizing political climate – creating emotional turmoil and upheaval over the past year, as well as the general everyday beautiful thoughts and anxieties that swirl around in our modern minds.
Lichtenstein is well known for her digital wonderlands of lush forests, consisting of thousands of female figures or “tree nymphs” that reveal themselves on close inspection. Filled with feminine power, these wondrous landscapes draw the viewer in to construct narratives about the figures and their actions. In A Perfect Storm, these otherwise frolicking figures appear in black silhouette against reflective silver or gold backgrounds. They are tossed around, clinging to branches blowing in the wind. They swing around amidst mother-of-pearl inlays engraved with words and sayings – a mix of fleeting thoughts, inane tweets, Trumpisms, #metoo quotes, pornography and poetry. The thoughts swirl around the women, adding a more tumultuous layer to the narrative nature of Lichtenstein’s work.
A Perfect Storm also presents a series of concrete hearts bursting with engraved lockets, Lichtenstein’s first sculptural body of work and a drastic departure from her figurative art. To construct these hearts, Lichtenstein bought thousands of mass-produced lockets from China starting at the beginning of what would become the yearlong, global pandemic. While lockets are typically engraved with simple inspirational or aspirational words like “forever” and “hope” and “love,” Lichtenstein sought to depict a jumble of thoughts, expressing what actually goes on in the mind and heart. These include snippets from romantic poetry, pornography, Instagram, newspapers, comic books, and diaries, all piled into a concrete heart form. The result is a heart overflowing with dreams, insecurities, fears, and desires. In essence, these solid sculptural works embrace the beauty, messiness, fragility, and strength of the human heart, which can at once break with pain and burst with love.
While the first two series reflect on the human response to chaotic times, Lichtenstein also looks ahead with hope, as evident in the showstopping, immersive mural installation titled After the Storm. In this piece, the familiar tree nymphs still cling to branches in the final moments of the passing storm, but a beam of light breaks through the clouds onto a colorful landscape. This installation, filled with paper cutouts of the female figures, invites the viewer to literally enter and interact with the landscape, at this moment when there is a chance to rebuild, and to put things right.
Jessica Lichtenstein uses the female body as a mechanism to explore deeper themes of power, female representation, fetischism and objectification, usually in an ironic and cheerful way. Her work consciously plays with the boundaries of power, commercialization, consumerism, fantasy and propriety, provoking tensions that challenge the viewer to confront his or her own gaze.