J. Henry, “Sine Metu”
July 16th – August 14th, 2022
Haven Gallery is honored to present New York based artist J. Henry for her first solo exhibition, entitled “Sine Metu” at the gallery. “Sine Metu” is a collection of fifteen oil paintings that chronicle the adventures and tales of knights, fairies, putti and other mythological beings in the artists masterly trompe l’eoil style (trick of the eye). The title “Sine Metu” is Ancient Latin for “without fear”, and embraces the tribulations our legendary protagonists embark on while they mingle with death, traverse tumultuous seas and battle fabled foes. With an emphasis on dualities, Henry focuses on themes of life and death, beauty and the grotesque, good and evil and other competing motifs ultimately creating harmoniously balanced compositions. Each scene represents micro events and details, executed with precision and potency, highlighting personal challenges and triumphs. Although small in scale and lush in detail, the impact of these stories and their subsequent lessons transcends the minutiae and commands universal reach. Upon closer inspection, one may discover each composition represents a window into miniature worlds full of botanical detail, relief architecture, sculpted forms of the grotesque and faux marble textures. Henry’s technique and narratives are historical and traditional – she finds inspiration from significant works of art, European architecture, theatre and set design, fairytales and epic sagas of the past. It is through her use of academic painting and themes revisited that she refreshes these timeless tales into contemporary contexts while challenging old ideals and ultimately providing a modern lens revisiting these universal motifs and tenets. ABOUT J. HENRY Education: 2011-2013: Western Connecticut State University. BM Opera & Vocal Performance (Incomplete) 2013-2014: Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris. Applied Arts (Incomplete) 2014-2017: School of Visual Arts. BFA Illustration, concentration in children’s books and concept art 2017: Studio and Forum of Scenic Art 2017-2020: United Scenic Artists, Local USA 829 (IATSE) Apprenticeship Collection Statement: The theme in a lot of this work comes from “untold tales,” vignettes of characters participating in a world separate from ours. I wanted to reflect the experience that one might have in a museum, when you stumble across a really weird piece of art from ages ago, whose purpose was to tell lessons and sing songs, but the aesthetic canons and technical methods of the time make it much more than just that, both foreign and familiar at the same time. Additionally, whether in a piece’s detail or entirety, I wanted to explore the idea of architectural ornament coming to life. I don’t like the idea that today’s generation of design robs the public of celebrating and being surrounded by the applied arts. (Everybody deserves gargoyles and acanthus leaves.) When enough care is put into detail, not only is it a more cherished product as a whole but that detail can take on a life of its own, stimulating the mind to create stories and training the eye to see beauty everywhere, which is essential for personal harmony in the best and the worst of times. This collection of paintings began with a fascination of rocaille grotesque, a newfound interest that started when I began studying architectural ornament, faux finish and trompe l’oeil as scenic painter for theater. This threw me down a rabbit hole of exploring the themes and motifs of historical ornament and costume that helped me set the world of these paintings in a grounded, albeit fantasy, time period. It also reawakened a lot of forgotten influences, like woodcarving and tattoo art, that, now with different eyes, I could draw parallels to to help me make design choices and technical decisions. The most beautiful designs are always ones that celebrate the shapes of nature. As a final kind of fun note, this body of work was done over the course of the last two years. A lot of them follow “palette phases,” and can kind of be identified chronologically by their overarching color.