WHAT: Jennifer Nocon’s “You See Ocean I See Sky”
WHEN: January 15 – February 14
WHERE: Tracy Williams, Ltd., 521 West 23 Street, 2nd Floor, New York
WHY YOU SHOULD SEE IT: Los Angeles artist Jennifer Nocon is taking her cues from the sky these days. And the sea. And just about every other awe-inspiring nugget nature has to offer. “You See Ocean I See Sky” is the artist’s third solo show with Tracy Williams, Ltd. Opening tonight, it fills both rooms of the second floor Chelsea gallery with her most recent ceramic and wool felt sculptures and watercolors on paper, each piece borrowing and blending visual patterns and colors from her nature-filled Southern California surroundings.
The artist counts the illustrations of 19th century German biologist Ernst Haeckel, erotic Japanese woodblock prints from the 17th century’s Edo period, and dust discovered at the end of the universe (left over from the Big Bang) as her direct influences for this newest series of work. Haeckel’s drawings were known for being ornate and teasing out the patterns present on living organisms. And while speaking with Ms. Nocon during the final installation for the show this morning, she mentioned that the way genitalia and the human form was framed by textile patterns in the erotic Edo prints she studied had fascinated her. The juxtaposition of flesh and ornate pattern makes an appearance in a large sculpture set atop a wooden plinth in the center of the gallery made of a Hans Wegner teak chair frame, wool felt, and clay titled Winter Wedding (2009-15).
The bright and brilliant shades that populate the surface of each work are the connecting thread of “You See Ocean I See Sky.” A triangular felt sculpture titled Backward Bull (2014) in the front room (another color gradient, this time pale yellow to burnt orange) is a color spectrum “completely unique to Los Angeles,” she remarked. This piece, more than any other, is evidence that Los Angeles is the true muse here. The colors appear when the oppressive Southern California sun hits the buildings at sunset. “I’ve never seen it anywhere else,” she said.