LOS ANGELES, CALIF.-
From careful expressions and tight, jewel-like pafterning to daunting tableaux of fantastical social portraiture, Jessie Makinsons approach to scenography, now on view at François Ghebaly Gallery
in Los Angeles, can perhaps best be described as a synthesis. Oscillating between historical, folkloric, environmental, and political modes, Makinson imbues her signature androgynes with whole networks of literary and mythological reference. These layered imaginaries, guided by Makinsons chameleon storytelling voice, form scenes of rich sociality.
In her newest body of work, Makinsons synthesis broaches both novel and familiar subject mafters, blending caches of disparate references that span centuries of literature, visual art, and tradition: Georgian political cartoons, druid solstice celebration, Adam Wisniewski-Snergs The Robot and Han Kangs The Vegetarian, fairy and UFO sightings through the ages. The exhibition title, Hoof on Bone, is excerpted from Hillary Mantels 1992 historical fiction novel, A Place of Greater Safety, during a scene in which men on horseback violently subdue a mob of French Revolutionary insurgents. Beyond the phrases literal meaning (as well as Makinsons recurring interest in depictions of 18th century European publics), hoof on bone describes for the artist an important confluenceof where, when, and why human and animal meet.
Across her practice, chimeric forms dominate the many laftices of limb and interlocking gaze that comprise her sceneries. Anthropomorphic figures decked in horns, tails, dense furs, and Escherian prints writhe and jostle one another across semi- abstracted foregrounds. This titular sensibility extends to Makinsons compositional and emotive interests, tooI think about where the figures and spaces meet. Of the place where cloth touches skin, of how bodies press against each other in moments of pleasure and trauma. Anchoring Makinsons exhibition is the expansive triptych, We shall be monsters (2022), whose title comes from a line by the eponymous hero of Mary Shelleys 1818 Frankenstein. Measuring over sixteen feet and depicting whole networks of raucous action and reaction, the triptych is a mammoth example of Makinsons de-centered storytelling. Figures lift, strut, and prance across intersecting planes, swaggering to an almost hysterical tune. They enfold one another, becoming part of each other like a frenzied molecular gang.
Among the recurring motifs in Hoof on Bone, few stand out quite like the severed heads in works such as Come you minx (2022) and All the same bubbles (2022). Darkly humored and Medusa-like, the severed head is a playful, deconstructive motif for the artis another gesture toward the animalic, often mischievous sociality that characterizes Makinsons ensembles: They bother each other, care for each other, cut each others heads off. They put their hands inside each other. Like they are surgeons or butchers or mechanics fixing a robot. Though clearly figurative and narrative in nature, Makinsons paintings belie complex underlayers of compositional exploration, too. Smaller formats like I know that bird (2022) and Can I have my kiss back? (2022) highlight the artists interest in human and animal forms as vessels for light, color, paftern, and space. Meanwhile, the limited palefte in works like The smell of hysterics (2022) offer isolated, more formal examples of Makinsons color and textural study. In combination with the artwork image, whose scene draws from 18th century drawings of brothel raids and yet reads almost like the floor of a modern party, Makinsons jarring, motley sensibilities become uniquely aftuned to the tenor of our strange times.
Jessie Makinson (b. 1985) lives and works in London, where she completed The Drawing Year Postgraduate Program at The Royal Drawing School in 2013. Recent solo exhibitions include François Ghebaly, Los Angeles (2021); Lyles & King, New York (2021 and 2020); Fabian Lang Gallery, Zürich (2019); and Galería OMR, Mexico City (2019). Recent group exhibitions include Simon Lee Gallery, London (2022); British Museum, London (2022); Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London (2021); Fabian Lang Gallery, Zürich (2021); Lyles & King, New York (2020); Victoria Miro, London (2020); Perrotin, Seoul (2019); T.J. Boulting, London (2018); and Nicodim Gallery, Bucharest (2018).