“Hearsay”, an exhibit opening tonight at Half Gallery, co-owned by Bravo’s Work of Art  judge Bill Powers, Andy Spade of Partners & Spade, and James Frey of The Memoire, features a trio of recent art school graduates. The press release reads, “the truth is an egg with a very thin shell, and much the same might be said of portraiture once you crack the surface, hence the title of this three person show.” Hmmm. An egg, the biological origin of life. Fragile. Unfertilized. Unknown. And women. Female artists. Young, at that.

Why get so excited when the artist is a woman? Is it transgressive? And why is the gallery using eggs as a metaphor for truth in an exhibit in which the three artists are under thirty? A little voyeuristic, huh? The introduction to “Hearsay”includes a Charles Baudelaire quote, “strangeness is a necessary ingredient in beauty.” “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” seems more apropos. Inherent to a contemporary discourse about art, is the perspective –or perch- of the artist. A triptych of female portrait painters is a show as much about the work as about contemporary subjectivity rendered through the female gaze.
Jeanette Hayes, a 21-year-old Pratt graduate, makes GIF art and has collaborated with the demimonde of downtown NYC fashion cool, Proenza Schouler and Opening Ceremony, on recent commercial projects. Her twitter feed is @jeanettehayes. American-Polish artist Jay Miriam graduated last year from Carnegie Mellon with a BFA in painting. Her figures are layered, grotesque, abstracted, and heavy; as if Cecily Brown had an affair with Arshile Gorky and Picasso tried to join the frenzy. And Francis Bacon came through the studio with a petulant Jenny Saville. Groan. Excuse the fantasy art scenarios. Yes, a ploy to distract from critiquing her work. These artists are so young. And they’re actively painting and showing. Is that enough? Sort of.
Jemima Kirke, a graduate of RISD, is, at 27 years old, the Elder. Painted portraits evoke Alice Neel, Karen Kilimnik, Elizabeth Peyton, and a little Ahn Duong. There is an ease to the subjects’ gaze. The narrative relationship between the subject, artist, and viewer collapses into the absence of narrative defiance. Girl paints girl. Narcissistic but in no way insolent. Sans tension.
Jemima Kirke currently plays Jessa on Girls. ‘Free spirited’, independent, wander-the-world Jessa, played by a lactating (Season 1 was filmed less than half a year after birth of her first baby; Season 2 was filmed during her second pregnancy) Jemima, hybrid Brit-via-Manhattan accent, layered vintage textiles, and little (super-smart) girl lost- revenge sex in a bar bathroom with an old flame, wise to the sloppy seductions of a creepy dad she babysits for, and sentimental old-fashioned romantic- could easily be the subject of one of these portraits. Jemima’s art is lovely; she seems to know exactly what she’s doing- confident strokes, colors, and a particular intimacy with the subjects. Perhaps because she plays an amalgam of her subjects in a television series.
This art show isn’t about girls, though…or is it? There are only two genders (sort of), but there are infinite ways to perceive and produce eggs.
-Penelope Bloom
Hearsay is at Half Gallery from October 3rd through October 24th
October 2012