by Gabriele Vainsencher
Locks Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of new work by Jane Irish. Sông Hương: Withdrawing Room will be on view April 5th through May 10th, 2013. There will be a reception for the artist on Friday, April 5th from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.
Jane Irish’s latest work explores the exoticism and escapism of 18th-century French homes, drawing inspiration from their taste for Orientalist motifs. Named after a Vietnamese river (“Perfume River” in English) and a reference to the drawing rooms of the Rococo era, Irish’s exhibition captures the contradictory power of the style—its ability to both inspire dreams of foreign shores and make home all the more sophisticated.
A triptych of towering canvases replicates the large-scale murals and tapestries favored by the French bourgeoisie, capturing their affinity for vaulted skies and pastel colors, while infusing them with Irish’s own loose brushstrokes and personal familiarity with the contemporary Vietnamese landscape. A manipulator of framing and angles, her depictions of French interiors capture these murals’ capacity to blur the distinctions between rooms and windows, inside and outside. In Irish’s hands, the illusion becomes both visual and thematic, provoking nostalgia for an idyllic place that never was.
Jane Irish has traveled extensively throughout France and Vietnam, and her work has long engaged with the fraught and interwoven history the two nations share. Painting on mediums ranging from Tyvek to porcelain, Irish is a longtime advocate for Vietnam War veterans, frequently incorporating their poetry and protest imagery into her art. Acutely aware of the ghosts of history, and the inexorable ties between war and peace, Irish creates harmonies of opulence and outrage.