Like a bouquet of flowers that have been set to dry, the repeated and layered images of dehydrated buds and splintering blades of grass in soft brown, sepia and white hues with sporadic use of black comprise the backdrop to Paris London Hong Kong’s latest exhibition, “A Faint Shadowy Trace” by Chicago-based artist Jaclyn Mednicov.
The fragile and fading appearance of the flowers and other plant life depicted throughout the painted and plaster-based works serve as a visual metaphor for the way in which time acts as an interloper, often distancing us from the memories and moments we cherish as they become softer.
In “Spring (9),” 2017 Mednicov has abstracted the flowers beyond the point of recognition, as if to say, this is what was. The milky white tones mixed with deep blues appear to scientifically document the skeletal remains of the original subject matter like an X-ray.
In “Spring (2-7),” 2017, a horizontal compilation of six works, Mednicov employs a more vibrant color palette of contrasting pinks, yellows and blues that tend to a quicker read of the flower- and plant-based forms while also suggesting rejuvenation, hope and new beginnings.
Mednicov begins with taking photographs of subject matter such as landscapes or plant life that are undergoing growth or, contrastingly, decay or deterioration. After printing the photographs, she employs a unique chemical process that involves pouring alcohol-based gel hand sanitizer over the surface of the image, the astringent liquid effectively expelling the ink from the paper and priming it. The original photograph is greeted by another surface, at times applied directly onto the wall or another substrate, such as a wood panel, onto which it is transferred.
In “Spring (10-11), 2017” Mednicov’s compounds her iterative process with collage. Although the underlying flowers, leaves and grass blades remain recognizable, the layers of collage and paint further distance the original image, simulating memory and the way in which we become separated from the initial event as we struggle to keep hold of it.
Mednicov also captures marks left behind by anonymous makers; a drawing on a frosted windowpane, a carving made into the side of a tree or marks made on the sidewalk. Step into the gallery’s adjacent office, look down and walk gingerly as you encounter a selection of screen prints made on carpet. Hand-drawn hearts and affectionate phrases such as “LOVE” sit alongside written tributes marking the name, birth and death dates of persons deceased. Though Mednicov primarily explores tropes such as loss or decay, she seeks and represents beauty in these darker moments, often finding resolution through her pastel color palette. By exposing the transience that envelops our daily existence, Mednicov encourages us to live and let go. (Denise Joseph)
Jaclyn Mednicov’s “A Faint Shadowy Trace” shows through July 8 at Paris London Hong Kong, 1709 West Chicago.