Statement : Schadenfreude

Schadenfreude No. 5

I have found that emotion and physical sensation are multifold: that in sadness there can be pleasure, in happiness pain, in violence humor. Schadenfreude is the German word for taking pleasure in another’s misfortune.  It is a conjunction of two opposing sentiments: Schaden, meaning damage and Freude joy.  This series portrays such a dichotomy by combining rich color and luscious handling of paint with imagery that appears both sensuous and painful. Each painting zeros in on a point of contact: hands poke and prod, rip open, or lovingly caress a disemboweled, red, jelly-filled doughnut.  The colors push past naturalism, approaching instead something more visceral, more internal. The hands, centers of touch, become stand-ins for the whole body.  By focusing on the interaction between the body and this ambiguously visceral object, the paintings explore the tension and tenderness that comprise the complicated relationships between persons and between one’s self and one’s own body.

“Jennifer Mazza explores somatic expressions of the body and the feelings / tones they express as they register psychic and emotional energy.  Her suite of small scale oil paintings depict the close-up mashing of a jelly doughnut between two vigorous hands.  These images, with their baroque physical flourishes kept in tight formation, are painted with jewel-like exactitude recalling memento-mori images drawn from 16th century Dutch still-lifes.  Mazza’s works are as disquieting as they are moving; her Schadenfreude series is mesmerizing theater.  It is as if some ancient rite of self-mortification is being re-enacted, in sensationalistic slow-motion, for a mass audience.”

Excerpt written by Dominique Nahas, 2004, from Timeless / Timeliness: Aljira Emerge 2003, exhibition catalogue, p. VII