Books

Book Review: Jen Mann's "Endless Quest of Myself (ie)"

July 25, 2018

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Look closely, and you can see the human touch. Toronto’s Jen Mann makes work that appears so much like an altered photograph, you’d have to put nose to canvas to tell otherwise. Sometimes the oil-on-canvas work is done all in deep blue hues, or pinks, almost like an Instagram filter, but with such hyperreal command, it can be like looking at stills from a film. Endless Quest For Myself (ie)is Mann’s newest monograph, over 200 pages of what she notes as, “poems, essays, short stories, one liners, paintings, sketches and photographs.” This arrangement fits the cinematic quality, as well as the book’s scene-oriented editing. Paintings are surrounded by narration, little thoughts that relate to the works, not so much directly, but in an ethereal way. Mann’s ability to create almost photo-perfect works are playful nods to technology and language, with marks reminiscent of touch-screen scribbles atop her most stunning works. Even the cover, a vibrant work with a "plz <3 me" feels as if a graffiti artist had tagged the works when Mann left the studio. And yet some of the text-based works, like Not the One, appear to be almost projections. In the end, Endless Quest For Myself (ie) touches on these dichotomies, the beautiful and the damaged, the elegant and the playful. Two versions are available: A regular release, and a limited edition of only 100 books with a unique Mann-designed bookplate signed by the artist. —EP

Jen Mann Art, Inc / JenMann.com