LAUNCH LA is proud to present Beyond the Surface, a new exhibition by Jennifer Faist and Eric Zammitt. Their materials and processes, though very different, create two bodies of work that are united by the unparalleled power of colors and patterns to call forth emotional and intellectual responses.
Jennifer Faist has carved out her very own niche in art – she captures certain aspects of abstract movements, from the simplicity of Minimalism to the clean aesthetic of California’s ‘Cool School’ and sweetens this mixture with “the feminine touch of adornment.” This unique combination bestows her take on abstraction with an uncharacteristic sense of warmth. “Rather than the dispassionate, ‘What you see is what you get’ maxim, my work embodies the more feminine habit of alluding to sentiment and memories,” explains Faist.
She uses a variety of formats for her paintings, from wall-mounted paintings to freestanding paintings supported by shelves. These panels are gessoed, sanded and painted with stenciled layers of acrylic paint. As each layer dries, the process is repeated with different colors. Faist then sands the paintings in order to bring buried elements back to light. After glazing the surface with multiple, transparent layers of acrylic, she finishes the process with a reflective layer of epoxy resin. The patterns and colors that emerge are not just constructed on a whim however – most are inspired by textile designs from own her clothes or from the apparel of those close to her. “Our closets are treasure troves of memories, and, as every garment is a reminder, every painting of these fabric patterns serves as a memento.”
Faist picked up this habit of associating clothes with certain events in her life from her mother, but only realized the connection after her mother’s passing: upon examining old photographs, she recognized articles of clothing which she had found in her mother’s closet – the jacket she wore visiting Mexico, her bikini from her Hawaiian vacation and the dress she wore the night of her engagement party. With this in mind, Faist’s paintings become macro versions of fabrics – the ridges of denim, the bumps and dips of jersey or intricacies of a favorite dress rendered in trompe l’oeil style – each pattern serving as a gateway to Faist’s memories and perhaps jarring loose some of our own.
Eric Zammitt’s segment of the exhibition is made up of assembled ‘paintings’ – hundreds of layers of different colored acrylic plastic sheets, sliced, layered, glued and polished into one synergistic whole. Positioned so that the viewer sees these layers side on, compelling effects manifest – complex patterns of color meld, transform and dissipate, and the individual digits seem to recede in space and pop forward due to differing translucency.
Through this structured approach and material, Zammitt’s work acquires a rational and scientific edge – as if it were a great experiment in color creation. However, the results of his process are ironically – and rewardingly – Gestalt and visceral in nature. His work is often associated with aspects of nature, science, music, and philosophical/spiritual concepts. “I see them as landscapes of light and matter in time. States of becoming and unbecoming. That’s nature in a nutshell. But nature, music, art, spirituality, is meant to be experienced, not conceptualized, and my aim is to use process as a channel for something natural and ineffable to happen.”
Zammitt will also be showing a new series of acrylic plastic wall sculptures. These works are more reductive in nature than his panels, but are still focused on the visceral qualities of color and light. They employ a combination densely colored layers with highly translucent colorless layers. The colorless layers absorb and diffuse light from the adjacent colored layers and “become” the color, or mix of colors they’re next to. The pieces seem to glow with an inner light.
Beyond the Surface juxtaposes the coolness of scientific curiosity with the warmth of memories and personal experience, reconciling these seemingly incompatible elements into one engrossing body of work – a sort of ying and yang of modern abstraction.
Jennifer Faist is an abstract painter who lives and works in the Los Angeles area. She received her BA from the University of California, Berkeley and her MFA from Claremont Graduate University. She’s had solo shows at Ruth Bachofner Gallery in Santa Monica and Heather Marx Gallery in San Francisco and has participated in numerous group shows at venues such as the Riverside Art Museum, Charlotte Jackson Fine Art, Howard Yezerski Gallery, Sabina Lee Gallery, Cal State L.A. Fine Arts Gallery, the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, the Armory Center for the Arts and the Huntington Beach Art Center. Her work has been reviewed in Artweek,Art Ltd., Flavorpill, Hyperallergic, Sacramento News & Review, California Home + Design, Fabrik, ArtSlant and LA Weekly.
When someone who’s never seen my work asks for a quick description of what my paintings look like, I usually tell them, “Pattern and Decoration meets Finish Fetish.” While stylistic stereotypes fall short of describing the many nuances in my work, I do tend to satisfy my urge to feminize the Minimalists I admire by sweetening the Cool School’s clean aesthetic of finish and craftsmanship with the feminine touch of adornment.
Also, rather than the dispassionate, “What you see is what you see” maxim, my work embodies the more feminine habit of alluding to sentiment and memories. When making my paintings, I choose colors and patterns that have personal significance and relate to specific events, people or places. Many of the patterns in the paintings come from textile designs from my clothes or from the apparel of those close to me. I associate what I wear with what I do, and I save each ensemble as a reminder – a habit I picked up from my mother who recently passed away. Recently, I went through her photos preparing for her wake and noticed many outfits I remember seeing in her closet decades later – bikinis from a Hawaiian vacation, the dress from her engagement party, a jacket from a trip to Mexico. Our closets are treasure troves of memories, and, as every garment is a reminder, every painting of these fabric patterns serves as a memento. The trompe l’oeil patterns buried in the depths of the paintings spark reflection on remnants of the past, but also, the shiny surfaces literally reflect fragments of their present surroundings and the viewers themselves.