Artist Jeremy Mann applies paint to panel in efficient, splendid ways. His scenes of wet streets on rainy nights contain captivating renderings of city lights, and, beneath the allure, his moody pictures have an emotional effect.
Mann’s figurative works, picturing dressed-up women whose expressions suggest the romantic blues, also grab and hold the eye.
Seventy recent works by the local artist are on view in an exhibition at John Pence Gallery. Most were created this year, and many feature San Francisco settings.
Mann’s oil paintings on wood panels are a gleaming mix of realism and abstraction. The poses of the female figures and the luminous quality of the streetscapes have a classical quality, but the alienation these works convey is unquestionably modern.
The artist’s bag of techniques includes staining the surface, wiping off paint with solvents, and creating broad areas of paint with an ink brayer.
Using these methods, Mann seeks to capture some of the energy and essence of the character-rich cities he paints.
His dark, wet thoroughfares include colored dots, drips and reflections of red tail lights, yellow street lamps, and blue neon signs. His compositions and uses of color, darkness, and light produce site-specific atmospheres and melancholy tones.
In “Evening Storm on Market Street,” the rain-slick San Francisco pavement and the way it distorts and reflects light make for a glistening display of urban nighttime colors and moods. The eye remains busy, shifting from the bright yellow light in the foreground to the cars and lit-up windows in the painting’s midsection to the orange and yellow vividness in the distance. Umbrella-carrying pedestrians, anonymous presences on the sidewalk, go almost unnoticed next to the glow.
“Night Behind Times Square,” a New York City scene, delivers a similar impact but with an overwhelmingly chilly-blue cast. Taxis, cars and trucks convey a sense of the transitory as they head toward the vanishing point.
The figurative works feature solitary young women wearing bedroom or evening attire and pieces of jewelry that, like Mann’s rainy streets, shimmeringly reflect light. Mann’s studio setting in which they pose, with its eclectic assortment of antique lamps, furniture, wineglasses, skulls and preserved butterflies, is itself an intriguing sight.
Mann’s figures don’t look at the viewer. Their heads face downward or to the side, and even in works such as “Fading Light,” in which the model’s back is turned, their poses suggest a state of mind. In “Sunday Window,” a figure absorbed in a private moment stands out against an abstract background as a portrait of unease and perhaps romantic discontent.
Mann also paints landscapes. In that arena, the exhibit contains a majestic picture, more than 6 feet across, of the Cathedral peak at Yosemite.
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