Jennifer Penkov

I work within the classical modes of representation to explore contemporary themes of femininity, beauty and identity-building. My paintings have taken the form of non-literal self portraits in which manufactured and surreal women represent a societally shaped understanding of feminine identity, while the work as a whole explores the (at times conflicting) influences that continue to shape and mould it. I am interested in the tensions between pressures modern women face to conform to traditional standards of beauty and femininity, and the push to deviate away from stereotypical norms that in turn creates separate expectations women are expected to meet. To accomplish this, I utilize images of women from magazines that reflect societal beauty ideals and allow me to fashion fantasy figures that are simultaneously passively influenced and actively influencing. The traditionally rendered figures are offset by modernist surroundings and stylistic interruptions that hint at conflicting tensions and complicate the reading of femininity. Russian Suprematist elements appropriated from Malevich paintings work to both offset the floral patterning (often associated with stereotypical femininity) formally and draw parallels with concepts of beauty by asking us to consider how beauty, like suprematist shapes can exist conceptually and on a canvas without really existing.

Blue Gossamer, oil on panel. 30” x 40” 2020

Red Square, oil on panel. 20” x 24” 2019

Ribbons and Pearls, oil on copper. 13” x 16” 2020

Roses, oil on panel. 18” x 24” 2019

Strand, oil and acrylic on linen. 20” x 30” 2019

Black Cross, oil and acrylic on panel. 20” x 24” 2019