Art and the digital age collide in abstract painter Jacqueline Humphries’ first large-scale museum exhibition at the Wexner Center for the Arts.
The exhibition, titled “jHΩ1 :)”, which went exhibited on Saturday and will run until January 2, 2022, features more than 30 paintings by Humphries, as well as his largest multi-panel installation to date, according to a Press release. Melissa Starker, spokesperson for the Wexner Center, said Humphries pushes the boundaries of abstract painting by including common elements of digital communication, such as emojis, emoticons and CAPTCHA, in her works.
“It’s this really nice combination of abstraction — which can sometimes be seen as a bit daunting — and things that anyone who uses a phone or a computer is familiar with,” Starker said.
Starker said the exhibit also features a variety of other works by Humphries, including his paintings that explore the visual language of logos, fluorescent paintings exposed to blacklight, and a selection of protest paintings.
Regardless of medium or subject, Starker said Humphries’ work is characterized by its engaging nature and the unique way it makes the viewer feel.
“It’s interesting because Abstract Expressionism is literally, you know, meant to be an outburst of raw emotion straight from the painter,” Starker said. “There’s something about the way Jacqueline approaches this that feels like inviting the viewer rather than just presenting them with something to absorb.”
Starker said the Wexner Center is known for its quirky architecture, which Humphries and guest curator Mark Godfrey took advantage of when they created their distinctive gallery setup for the exhibit. Daniel Marcus, associate curator of exhibits at the Wexner Center, said visitors familiar with the center will be amazed at how Humphries and Godfrey have transformed the building through the exhibit’s layout.
“Walking through the galleries, you travel through the last seven years of his career and follow the changes in his process and changing interests,” Marcus said. “But you’re also navigating a dialogue with the architecture of the Wexner Center, and that’s really key.”
Marcus said Humphries’ exhibit reimagines the architecture of the building in a way that makes it “magical” for the staff again.
“It really helps to have an artist working with us who can help us see what we have and see how stimulating and provocative architecture can be, for the artists, for us and for the visitors,” said Marcus said.
Marcus said Humphries found ways to continue creating abstract art in a digital world that is no longer defined by canvas and oil paints.
“Throughout her career – and it’s an ongoing process – she’s tried to think about this and work within the framework of the painting being quote-unquote ‘dead,'” Marcus said. “In a way, I think she just proved that whole idea wrong.”
Humphries created paintings in this exhibition that cause viewers to think about how paintings are made and to question the limits of what painting can be, Marcus said.
“The thing to look for and to think about with this exhibition, at least I think, is how these works of art engage, capture the elements of our digital lives and use them and show us the world of the screen in a way we don’t know?” Marcus said.
Admission to “jHΩ1 :)” is free for members and students. More information about Jacqueline Humphries and her exhibit can be found at the Wexner Center’s website.