Jessica Mein’s work comes out of the legacy of Brazilian constructivism. The São Paulo-born artist’s airy compositions recall the work of Lygia Clark and Lygia Pape. Whether in collaging billboards or, as in obra vinte e seis, cutting into the painting’s surface to reveal the structure of the linen beneath, Mein is interested in the infrastructure of an image, its architecture. As The New Yorker observed in a review of a 2013 solo exhibition that first showcased this work, Mein tellingly titles her works obras, “a Portuguese word that means both art work and construction sites. She has meticulously unthreaded the canvas or hemp that supports the abstraction, leaving delicate see-through stripes… that collapse the boundary between found and made.” The gesture is central to the artist’s practice, and further echoed in the work on view in the current exhibition at Simon Preston Gallery.
Her work is included in collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Julia Stoschek Collection, Dusseldorf; and The Albright Knox, Buffalo. Mein participated as an artist-in-residence of Art Dubai in 2015, partnered with the Delfina Art Foundation, and was awarded an Alserkal Avenue artist commission project in 2016.
She is represented by Simon Preston Gallery, New York, which is currently presenting its third solo exhibition of Mein’s work, Desvios, through October 30.
Image rights: Courtesy of the artist and Simon Preston Gallery, New York
Simon Preston Gallery, NY
About Jessica Mein
Jessica Mein refers to her artworks as “obras,” which means both a work of art and construction site in her native Portuguese. This conscious word choice is meant to stress both the labor and source material of her artwork. In many of her pieces, Mein uses images salvaged from billboards which signify more than commercial culture and broad advertising to the artist. With a ban on outdoor advertisements in her hometown, Sao Paulo, the works subvert censorship by recycling the material for new purposes. Mein also notably punctures and unravels her canvas threads. Reminiscent of Lucio Fontana, the effacement of her canvases reveals the wall and supports behind them. This disruption of the picture plane distracts from the image and calls attention to the object as a piece of art and product of the artist’s physical handiwork. Through her ruptured canvases, the duality of Mein’s “obras” becomes strikingly clear.