Toronto based artist Jen Mann creates lovingly painted portraits with impressive in both detail and scale. While her practice also includes images of other people, her focus on self portraiture captivates us.
Oil portraiture on canvas is a traditional discipline, yet Mann uses contemporary technologies to alter a traditional subject matter. The use of projected imagery interrupts this tradition, using contemporary technologies to create a new dialogue. These projections also mirror the way each work is a projection of her created image, the version of herself she allows the viewer to have access to. Mann's use of colour is glamorous and powerful, dousing the portraits in dramatic monochromes or morphing their features with brilliant blues and pinks. When overlaid with text, the paintings read almost as film stills, bringing the stylized work of Cindy Sherman to mind. Each portrait disconcertingly plays with the viewer's power, effectively using her gaze or lack thereof to give control to either her likeness or the viewer.
Jen Mann's paintings are so impressively realistic that they read almost as photographs, so much so it is possible to lose the role of painting in the work. However, the process of painting your own image is also a process of meditating on the self, with each work having the potential to bring both the artist and her audience the answer to the question: who is Jenn Mann?