Anat Ebgi is pleased to announce Call Me When You Start Wearing Red, a solo exhibition by Janet Werner on view at 6150 Wilshire Blvd, January 21 – February 25, 2023. An opening reception will take place Saturday, January 21 from 5 – 8pm.
Please join us Wednesday, February 8, at 7pm for an artist conversation at the gallery with Janet Werner, moderated by writer and curator Ashton Cooper.
Janet Werner is an artist known for painting psychological portraits of women. Call Me When You Start Wearing Red, the artist’s second exhibition with the gallery, examines ideas of being divided, dualities of human nature, and inner multiplicity. Werner externalizes these psychological splits within her ‘broken pictures.’ Side-stepping narrative, her subjects present more as ideas—vessels for viewers to pour themselves into. We relate to them through their disruptions—shrinking heads, contorting bodies, flipping figures upside-down, or partial obscuration.
For over two decades, Werner has explored the possibilities of her photographic source material—images of women culled both from fashion magazines and art historical references. Although her work and style continue to eschew naturalism, she has also grown ever-more ambivalent about her subjects-cum-performers, finding increasing satisfaction with her interruptions and “determined more than ever to break them apart and alter them in obvious and aggressive ways, a shift away from the idea of a unitary wholeness.”
Nonetheless the works possess a seductive openness, a vulnerability manifested through the figures’ gazes that allows viewers to project onto them. Werner’s paintings are not just the image, but the encounter, viewer and painting, the hypnotic power between them ignited by the artist’s mature, assured paint handling.
A thread of performativity runs through the works, not just because the models are performing for the camera, but actual references to magic occur in the work—levitation, dressing up, acrobatics, circuses, and clowns—not to mention the roles of femininity on display. As the artist, Werner too is a performer of sorts, and asserts that “if I do the paintings right, the viewer can ‘complete the trick.’”
Often soft and gestural, Werner gives the paintings an edge through color contrasts that are often derived from fashion sources. Garments, shoes, and accessories present prominent and highly delineated opportunities to be expressive and bold with color. Explorations of texture, folds, and shadows, introduce different rhythms of brushwork, broadening her lexicon of mark making in the compositions. Each new painting adds an opportunity for experiments with transparency, high chroma, and patterning ultimately contributing to the sense of mystery, play, and provocation in the overall exhibition.
Janet Werner (b. 1959, Winnipeg, Manitoba) received her MFA from Yale University, after which she returned to Canada, where she taught at the University of Saskatchewan from 1987 to 1999 and Concordia University, Montréal, from 1999 to 2019. In 2019 Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal mounted a monographic exhibition Janet Werner. Previous to that from 2013-2015 a solo survey exhibition of her work Another Perfect Day, organized by the Kenderline Art Gallery, University of Saskatchewan, toured to five locations in Canada, including the Esker Foundation, Calgary; the McIntosh Gallery, Ontario; Galerie de l’UQAM, Montreal; and the Doris McCarthy Gallery, Toronto.
Werner has exhibited her work in solo exhibitions at Anat Ebgi, Los Angeles, CA; Bradley Ertaskiran, Montréal, QC; Arsenal Contemporary, New York, NY; Galerie Julia Garnatz, Cologne, DE; and Whatiftheworld Gallery, Cape Town, ZA. Her works are in the collections of the Musée du Québec; Musée d’art contemporain, Montreal; The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), Toronto; Canadian Embassy in Berlin; University of Lethbridge, Alberta; Winnipeg Art Gallery, McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, San Francisco, CA; and numerous private and corporate collections. Werner lives and works in Montréal, Québec.
The recent publication Sticky Pictures, co-published by Griffin Art Projects and Figure 1 in collaboration with the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, surveys the last 7 years of Werner’s painting practice.