Jennifer Smith: 'I am not interested in representing women in normal conventions of beauty'
Jennifer Smith is an Irish painter based in the Netherlands.
Can you tell us about the inspiration and concerns behind your art practice?
I paint from a place that emphasis a strong influence on the female nude. The themes I return to again and again are of the female body, gender issues, social media influences and the complexities of image making. My artistic ouput is the combination of decision making through the physicality of painting and what is generated intuitively and from the subconscious. The subject matter is distinctively contemporary. I paint in an abstract expressionist style. I am not interested in representing women in normal conventions of beauty. I don't see myself as a political artist but my most recent works have been influenced from current issues relating to women's rights and fight for equality.I am often trying to respond to a narrative influenced by social media, gender roles and representations of the female body and also perceptions of female beauty.
I am always reminded of the Oscar Wilde quote ‘every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter’ when painters produce portraits and nudes. Do you use models for your compositions or are the figures you paint a representation of your own body/emotions?
I have used my own body in the past but in general I source the images via the internet or in magazines, books etc. I have an idea of the kind of pose I want to paint or if I am looking for a certain expression or
movement of the body or a hand for instance . However, I am never fully interested in a true anatomical representation and definitely more interested in an expression of emotions. The reappearance of the female figure in my paintings is semi autobiographical. Looking back through the different series of paintings I have made over the years there are absolute connections to things that I was experiencing in my life at that time.
You are an Irish artist but are based in the Netherlands. How do different locations and art scenes influence your work?
To be honest I never really had the chance to be a part of or experience the art scene in Ireland. I graduated in 2005 and in 2006 I left Ireland and painting and travelled for several years. I only returned to painting in 2012 when I eventually relocated to The Netherlands. It has been pointed out to me by several artists/curators here in The Netherlands that my paintings seem to tell a story and also have a colour tone that they associate with Ireland, so I guess being Irish will always have an influence on my work. I live in a very isolated location on the grounds of an old windmill, this in retrospect has influenced my painting in terms of the representation of a lone female figure in my work. The art scene here is quite diverse and international which has given me the confidence and encouragement to explore and create my own style of painting.
What are you plans for the future? What’s next for your practice?
In short, Keep painting! I am much more focused and prepared when I enter the studio now. My paintings are naturally developing in the direction of a more abstract representation which I am very interested and excited about. I have always worked in series until it felt like a series was completed and this seems to be naturally happening in my work right now where one is ending and a new one beginning. I cannot say at this point exactly what will happen but I am looking forward to seeing where it leads.
You can find out more about Jennifer's work at www.jennifersmith.nl and instagram: jennifer_smith_art
Her next exhibition/project is the 'Nasty Women' exhibition in Dublin at Pallas Projects/studios, Dublin Ireland. Opening 3rd August – 12 August. www.pallasprojects.org