Men Gallery presents Cry me a river, the first solo exhibition in New York City by Brooklyn-based artist Jen Hitchings. The new paintings at Men Gallery will present a further and deeper exploration of the themes of anxiety, abandonment, and disasters both emotional and natural, as seen in Fork In The Road, her solo exhibition at Proto earlier this year.
The paintings in Cry me a river are a return to roots for Hitchings, both personally and as a painter, as she reexamines more deeply the personal iconography and subject matter from her past work, such as using loosely-rendered cars as stand-ins for friends and family. An example of this is found in Abandonment Issues, in which she depicts two opposing Ford pickups reminiscent of the vehicle her father used to transport his belongings out of her childhood home when her parents chose to end their marriage.
Her recent depictions of flooded landscapes combine memories of her home-town, which floods regularly, and an interest in the flood itself as a metaphor for a psychological state. Flooding is also a psychotherapeutic technique used to treat phobia and anxiety disorders by exposing the patient to their painful memories with the goal of reintegrating their repressed emotions with their current awareness. This is, essentially, what Hitchings has forced upon herself when recreating these scenes. Technically, the paintings record this meditative activity with their repetitive dots and patterns painted entirely by hand with a brush, the artist’s struggle with the subject matter reinforced by the inevitable flaws in the final image, illuminated in her attempt to create perfect lines and spacing.
The content in this work also suggests the artist’s interest in environmental disasters and, more broadly, the slow destruction of the cookie-cutter suburban towns fabricated with the intent of creating the illusion of a community of do-no-wrong, nuclear families. Hitchings’ has always strived to illuminate the dark underlying aspects of society: indulgence, promiscuity, debauchery, but in a contradictory, celebratory color palette and lively expressiveness. The works in Cry me a river continue this trajectory, yet with much more controlled and subdued color and carefully considered, metaphorical imagery.