"Twice Over": Rebecca Ness' NYC Debut @ 1969 Gallery
Rebecca Ness once worked as a particularly sharp-eyed courtroom sketch artist. It’s been a busy year since we last spoke with the Massachusetts native, who recently completed her MFA in Painting and Printmaking at Yale and heads to New York’s 1969 Gallery to present her newest observations in a presentation she calls Twice Over.
Ever perceptive, Ness shifts from how the inner self transmits outwardly to focusing on how everyday habits and external language project mood and message. When asked about this shift, Ness recalls, “I was on the Metro-North, which is the train that goes to New Haven to New York and back, and I was opposite to this kind of older guy who was reading the New York Times, and there was this giant photo of Trump doing some military speech or whatever. It was the April 19th, 2019 newspaper, and this giant photo was facing out directly across at me. Trump was speaking out, basically to me, and there were all of these mostly white military guys, staring back at me too, all with giant smiles. So, it was like this moment of the outward coming to the inward, this kind of connection.”
Within this pivot projection, Ness still indulges in her appreciation of fashion and toiletry details as a universal form of introduction. Directly inspired and admittedly “obsessed with the portraitist Barkley Hendricks, Ness plays extensively with texture, experimenting with all sorts of tools and techniques, delighting in making pattern and fabric the center of attention. "I just had this idea of using the ceramic tool to make the kind of finger elbow, like this little fold on each of our knuckles. I tried that first, then I tried it on the rest of the hand. And then it gave this hand a kind of vibrant, living, throbbing feeling. I think that's what I had always been searching for in making skin."
Although working primarily with a fast-drying gouache in the past, Ness revisits oils in the latest group of paintings as she settles into a post-grad routine. The resulting hyper-vibrant images focus on the postures and routines she finds fascinating, exchanging facial features for nuance, gesture and body language. After periods of exploring eccentricities and technical invention, Ness’ new paintings savor richly layered, colorful compositions, presenting a balance between the mundane and the marvelous. –Sasha Bogojev