Jasmine Justice sounds like a name given to the righteous fall of autocracies in the Middle East. However, Jasmine Justice is the real, and awesome, name of an American-born abstract expressionist painter currently living in Istanbul, Turkey. Ms. Justice’s style, color palette and play with titles affix her to contemporary painting in the United States, yet the visual vivacity, visceral vibrancy that lends the adjective of “expressionist” to her work sets her apart—jettisoned into a diverse global field.
Brooklyn Rail art critic, Sharon L. Butler, used the term “new casualism,” to describe what is at play in Justice’s work. Butler, through a detailed analysis of curators’ specific exhibitions of contemporary abstract paintings, describes the project of many “self-amused but not unserious” abstractionists as “playful, unpredictable encounters.” Justice’s work brings the playful to the fore while making homage to those painters that preceded her.
Jasmine Justice. Smoker. 2011. Acrylic on canvas
Justice’s citations are fast and loose as they should be. Smoker (2011) is the most figural of the group, calling forth Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907) through color and what appears as a painted asymmetrical eye. Even the mirrored composition is present in Justice’s work though altered through the stark contrast of dark and light.
Another piece, Untitled, utilizes Flashe vinyl paint and acrylic to produce something like a Mary Heilmann abstraction yet Justice’s color palette elicits new connections and contemporary contexts far from the established abstract-expressionist milieu.
Jasmine Justice. Naughty or Nice. 2011. Acrylic on canvas. Image courtesy of 65GRAND and the artist.
The majority of Justice’s paintings on exhibit at 65GRAND exhibit a bilateral symmetry, if only to play with it through slight alterations as noted with Smoker. Naughty or Nice is a rather simple abstract figuration that pits two flowered forms against one another on a silver field, separated by shaded geometries. There’s an explicit question of choice that relates to larger questions about painting: naughty or nice? Layers of paint are still visible underneath the surface; traces of the construction of the final image-object become the surface— a ripe metaphor for contemporary modes of production.
Amongst Ms. Justice’s paintings are installed two rather “other” works. They are both printed collages, consisting of inkjet prints on 8.5”x11” paper, wallpapered to the gallery in unordered fashion. One of these, Cemberlitas, consists of sunshine ochre splotches broken out of their random placements and reordered rectilinearly. The sheets. The sheets are aligned in a column, two sheets wide, eight sheets tall. The name refers to the great Column of Constantine in Çemberlitas Square. The column itself commemorates the shift of the Roman Empire to the east, with the new capital of Byzantium. As legend and logic has it, the dedication ceremony included both pagan and Christian rites in a true refashioning of culture in preparation for the new.
Cemberlitas by Justice is just such a contemporary refashioning. Bill Gross of 65GRAND commented that the purpose of these collage pieces was to fashion work that could be sent in an envelope or received in digital format, then printed out and installed. Justice seems to want to combine the digital and physical. The attempt is not lost to me but seems a little bit too loose, too playful perhaps, to be much more than a buggy beta version.
Jasmine Justice exhibits great talent informed through years abroad. Her work has an energy and a simple daring that seems right for the times. Some violence, some remixing, a dash of experimentation but always a pleasure –that’s Jasmine Justice.
-Joel Kuennen, ArtSlant Staff Writer