Jennifer Cronin’s nude self-portraits are demure, with wet hair or strategically placed limbs covering other unmentionables. She sets herself against a backdrop of oftentimes Caravaggio-esque, dramatically lit domestic interiors. The bathroom, that most intimate and tight quartered room of the house, features prominently. A student of both art and psychology, and a suburbanite born and raised, Cronin appears as equally uncomfortable in the banal spaces she occupies as she is in her own bare skin. That tension manifests itself in figurative amalgamations, varying in form from the goofy glob to the haunting wispy vapour that accompany her as she squats on the toilet, soaks in the tub or scrutinizes her own reflection in a vanity mirror. The shape-shifting apparitions splinter the intimacy of the scenes, adding their own emotionally charged presence to the composition, sometimes with humor, as they ooze between Cronin’s finger tips, and sometimes as an eerily Hitchcockian stalker, when an outstretched paint stroke issuing from the shadows gropes toward her unsuspecting bare shoulder.
Director of the Elephant Room gallery Kimberly Atwood selected the name for the gallery from the idiomatic “elephant in the room,” hoping that the art on display in the spare but well-finished room would serve as that enormous non-sequitur in need of contemplation and confrontation—and in this suite of paintings, it does. (Thea Nichols)
Through June 12 at Elephant Room Art Gallery, 704 S. Wabash