Joyceland in London 1981-2014
Studio accumulation from 1981 to present day
Joyce Pensato paints exuberant, explosive large-scale likenesses of cartoon characters and comic-book heroes. Her seemingly frenzied technique – actually involving the deliberate accretion of successive layers of bold linear gestures, rapid spattering and frequent erasures – results in alternately humorous and sinister imagery. While her prima facie subject matter ranges from Batman, The Simpsons and Mickey Mouse to Felix the Cat and Elmo from Sesame Street, her artistic progenitors include Alberto Giacometti, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Abstract Expressionists such as Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline and Philip Guston.
As well as excising her floating heads from the contexts of Gotham, Disneyland, Springfield or South Park, Pensato situates her figures in troubling psychological states and indeterminate spaces. The true source of their meaning is concealed, not only by successive sweeps of paint, but beneath the guileless grin of Donald Duck or the Caped Crusader’s eye-less mask. Taking much of her material from her surroundings in her hometown of Brooklyn, New York – from graffitoed walls to hand-scrawled shop signs – Pensato paints almost exclusively in shop-bought black and white enamel, while also employing charcoal and pastel for smaller-scale drawings. Recently Pensato has begun painting oversized murals, often taking weeks to complete, while there are also occasional leaps away from the monochrome world she generally inhabits into sporadic bursts of colour, especially silver and gold. Her first major exhibition in London is scheduled for March 2014 and Lisson Gallery is representing Joyce Pensato in collaboration with Petzel Gallery, New York.
© Ruth Zoe Andreas, all rights reserved