Anna Kustera Gallery
520 West 21st Street New York
Julia Jacquette is a brilliant oil painter. Her newest and current show is called Water, Liquor, Hair, and is quite self-explanatory. Jacquette uses advertising for inspiration and reference, specifically, the ads toward the front of magazines, which are almost exclusively for high end liquor, jewelry, shampoo and perfumes.
A palpable common denominator between these products and the way they are advertised is a certain chic wetness. Shampoo ads have inhumanely shiny, sleek hair, blonde and brunette multidimensional shades, perfumes are often photographed in shallow films of water, or with a model fresh out of the beach, pool, etc… liquor ads obviously encompass all that comes with a hot day and a cool drink; ice cubes, condensation, carbonation and bubbles, pouring a smooth liquid in super slow motion into a highball that seems to go on forever, fast cars on shiny watered down highways, these are all the subtle nuances that provoke us as consumers to buy these products, as well as the motivation behind every brushstroke of each painting in this show.
Upon entering the gallery, two paintings are on opposite walls, one is a tarmac with a vivid reflection of the airplane, like it’s a mirage on a 100 plus degree day, while the second piece is an abstracted close up of suspended bubbles in a cool blue liquid. Both of these pieces are so different, yet evoke the same feeling in the viewer: thirst. Thirsting for a drink, for international travel, for the good life.
As if I was not impressed enough with the foyer, as one turns the corner into the main gallery space, it is a feast for the eyes, to say the least. You are immediately met with two ends of the spectrums of scale and depiction. Smaller works on panel are photorealistic squares of hair so shiny and bouncy it gave me The Urge to Herbal. A finger of whiskey hanging on its own in the corner begged me to pick it up and sip it contently in the warm room surrounding it. A Chanel necklace around a blonde’s neck taunted me, in the way a popular girl in high school would, yet I want acceptance and approval.
Amongst these gem-like smaller pieces are enormous, wall-sized abstractions of various rums and spirits. An avid fan of the sauce, each one spoke to me; ‘Mojito, Bacardi with lime, whiskey on the rocks’. The center one, probably the most non-objective of the group, made me squeal with joy on the inside as I thought ‘looking down a huge glass of white wine’, and the artist graciously informs us that it is indeed, a glass of wine from above. Something about the stem-like dark spot in the center seemed very familiar to me, maybe too familiar.
The hues in the room are comfortable and household. The shades of the hair mimic the colors of the liquor. Each painting, whether large and abstract or small and representative hold the same levels of precision and meticulousness; it takes a talented hand indeed to paint strands of hair, pearls, airplanes, and mixed drinks with the same conviction. Anyone who has ever flipped through a Cosmopolitan or enjoyed one at an airport bar would be enamored with the work of Julia Jacquette.