Over the past few years, Jenny Brillhart has spent a lot of time considering light as it moves through her studio and her life. Her work shifts from sculpture with painting, to painting with sculpture and back to one or the other completely. Consistently, she renders our diffused environments – generic, nondescript spaces of work and life – in a way that draws attention to how place can mirror the mind. Charles Sheeler’s blues, the surburban landscapes of Richard Diebenkorn and Robert Bechtle, and the quiet shadows of Vermeer and Morandi come to mind.
With her current show Overcast, Brillhart continues to contemplate overlooked, discarded and visceral objects. Here they are rendered in oil, in a frank and traditional manner, stressing a narrative setting. Material inserts itself into this narrative, as abiding structure and support. The obvious imagery of a small town dump married with an internal, interior process and studio materials presents a contradiction. Materials and process may elevate the subject, presenting the idea that anything can become beautiful, or artful if ambition and purpose are there. A found object becomes more weighted and considered with time and intention. This work can also be seen as a leveling or democratizing of both subject and material. The studio painting carefully crafted using linen, wood, oil and brushes is on par with tossed mattresses and fractured sinks – perhaps a questioning of art making in general.
The artist’s concern with the subject circles back to a sense of light and form. The material manipulation builds the works in a way that mirrors the subject. The intention being an effort to bring depth to both the painting as object, and the story it tells.