James Cohan is pleased to present The Venus Effect, an exhibition of new paintings by Jesse Mockrin, on view at 48 Walker Street from September 8 through October 21, 2023. This is Mockrin’s first solo exhibition with James Cohan. The gallery will host an opening reception with the artist on Friday, September 8 from 6-8 PM. A conversation between Mockrin and Adam Harris Levine, Associate Curator of European Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto will take place at 48 Walker on Thursday, September 14 at 6 PM.
Extracting details from European Old Master paintings, Jesse Mockrin recontextualizes cultural narratives and art historical motifs to speak to the present. In The Venus Effect, Mockrin explores historical representations of women with mirrors, ranging from scenes of the toilette to biblical and mythological narratives of reflection. The Venus effect, named for the art historical tradition of images that depict Venus gazing into a mirror, is a perceptual phenomenon wherein the viewer is fooled into believing that Venus is looking at her own reflection. In reality, her line of sight in the mirror connects with the viewer of the painting or the painter who created it. Mockrin sees this as an apt metaphor for these historical paintings themselves, which profess to portray women’s self-obsession, but instead depict a female subject gazing adoringly at the male painter who fashioned her.
For centuries, images of women painted by men have depicted women’s beauty and nudity in the service of revealing an innate feminine vanity, greed, or wantonness. Mockrin reveals whose narcissism and gratification is truly on display. Through the artist’s contemporary feminist lens, the mirror becomes the tool through which her sitters recognize themselves as both the object of desire and a powerful subject whose agency is antithetical to their original narratives.