Virtual Visit – Attending to Particulars at Tibor de Nagy

July 28, 2020

Like so many other shows that opened in March – my show at Tibor had a short run as it was shuttered early on as New York entered the ‘pause’.

Below is a short video and the press release —

Attending to Particulars Virtual Walkthrough – Tibor de Nagy Gallery, Spring 2020 from J Mazza on Vimeo.

Attention consists of suspending our thought, leaving it detached, empty and ready to be penetrated by the object.

— Simone Weil

All right, y’all pushing, you’re pushing, you’re pushing. Just relax, relax. You’re pushing it. It will go up by itself. Don’t put nothing in it unless you feel it.

—Nina Simone

It is a task to come to see the world as it is.

—Iris Murdoch

Tibor de Nagy is pleased to present, Jen Mazza Attention to Particulars, an exhibition of recent paintings. This will be Mazza’s third exhibition at the gallery and her fist since 2015.

“Attention is rewarded by a knowledge of reality,” writes novelist Iris Murdoch. Mazza sees the task of painting as continual expelling of oneself from the matter at hand; a surrender of intention in favor of attention. There is a truth revealing faculty to attention, it rewards us with the knowledge of other people and the world, not as we would wish them into existence—compel them to be for our own use and purposes—but as independent of our will, posing themselves as obstacles resistant to our control. Mazza is inspired by Murdoch’s thought that artists enact just this form of attention, and works of art, in turn, help us to learn how to pay better attention to the world. This is a show about how we look at artworks, how we look at objects, and how we look at ourselves and other people.

What unites the paintings in this show, beyond a neutral palette of chromatic greys, is the mode of attention paid to the objects represented. These paintings are all doing what Simone Weil describes above, attending to an object, and in doing so they pose a question: What is an object? And, moreover, what objects are appropriate now as subjects for painting? The muted color palette seems important for having this meditative attention—there is nothing that commands the eye beyond the object itself. Of the ten paintings in the show, the largest is of an array of numbers, ranging from 0 to 255, and is a reproduction of one of many data images sent back to Earth from the 1969 Mariner 6 and 7 mission to Mars. Numbers appear again in a large painting of shells. Another painting takes form from a poem by Alice Notley, the text excised but all of the punctuation left intact; a fragmented interior is visible through the holes cut through the page. Six oil paintings of Etruscan Mirrors focus on the gaze, three of which depict the reflective side, each marred with an inscription made upon the death of the owner to literally ‘stop the gaze.’ The other three slightly larger mirror paintings show the decorated reverse of the mirror in which multiple figures are engaged in mutual regard.

Mazza was caught by a comment made by the artist Kadar Attia last fall in dialog with the philosopher Souleymane Bachir Diagne at Columbia University. Attia said “we have lost the notion of us.” Murdoch thought both art and love de- center the self — “gazing is the master image” she writes. Mazza believes that what we seek to see is hidden in plain sight, so careful attention is needed to slow and complicate how we look. These paintings, of literal mirrors and of objects constituted otherwise (by classification, by excision, and objects constituted between works by constellation) aim to regain that lost notion, the notion of us, by attending to objects. Changing the present requires taking up the materials of our past differently, reappropriating them towards the formulation of a new manner of reflecting on who we are.

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March 04, 2020

The headlines tell us we are living through a historic time, but this seems a promise—a consolation prize of sorts—as from moment to moment I feel lost in time. It is as if time has ceased to move forward at all. The historical event promised to us comes from imagining ourselves on the other side of the event, an event that from the inside feels interminable, and such imagining is a difficult activity to sustain. What I hear instead are tales of lack of focus, feelings of being unsettled and difficulty sustaining attention.

We are living in a moment of rupture, a moment that distracts us from our regular activities and hollows them out – and in turn we attempt to distract our attention away from this distraction.

And to speak of my distraction I am sitting hunched over in a corner of a dark room whispering into my zoom recorder. (I can’t manage to whisper for long with the lights on.) There is so little traffic at night, or any sound really, so one can whisper and be heard. Whispering has so much more of the tactile, is it a bit percussive, and has something of the material that I am missing.

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“Disobedience is not careless” at the James Gallery

February 06, 2020

About the exhibition

Join us for the exhibition reception of “Disobedience is Not Careless” by Jen Mazza in the James Gallery on Thursday, September 20, 2018, from 6-8pm with a special poetry reading by Jess Laser.

What does painting specifically “do?” Painting has been a mode of public expression throughout many systems of culture and politics, and as Theodor Adorno noted, painting contains sedimented time. It is a slow medium, unfolding as it works on and with the viewer. The material of paint is itself a language, that because of its specific materiality, proportion, and location, creates friction. In the contemporary moment when all images seem recognizable, painting stands aside from the digital realm. Painting is a site where viewers may experiment with piecing together constellations of meaning from fragments. In today’s visual culture, such a practice of precise looking and questioning is “disobedient,” in the words of Robert Duncan’s poem The Law. Examining a painting offers a valuable slice of time to wrestle with what we assume we know about visual language and to question what we take for granted in making meaning. 

The exhibition and related programs “Disobedience is Not Careless” is a project with painterJen Mazza that explores language and quotation through painting, philosophy and poetry, curated by Katherine Carl. The exhibition and series of programs is open from September 12 to December 15, 2018.

The Center for the Humanities, CUNY Graduate Center

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Groups shows February and March

February 20, 2017

Shows opening at Tibor de Nagy, February 26th and at the Knockdown Center March 4th

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January 28, 2017

click on image to play video

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The Hunt

December 29, 2016

“Painting,” After Courbet, digital collage

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All in green

December 25, 2016

All in green went… mixed media/ digital collage, 2016

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Ryman at Dia Chelsea

July 18, 2016

'Arrow,' 1976, by Robert Ryman

The use of white focuses the viewer on the tactile — on the paint itself. It is tempting to see the subject of these paintings as the very process of painting itself.
But this simplistic reading overlooks a great deal. There always seems to be a point at which the meaning of a work of art is insoluble in language.”

from Ill said Ill seen: a meditation on Robert Ryman and Samuel Beckett – now online at The Finch – read more here

above: ‘Arrow,’ 1976, by Robert Ryman

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La Storia

May 12, 2016


LA STORIA, exhibition view


Thrilled to show with Michelle and Laurie in Jersey City – La Storia – listed as one of AFC’s must see events

Elsa Morante’s seminal novel of Italian women and children’s experience and struggles during the Second World War, La Storia, provides both the theme and the title of the exhibition.   Like Morante, each of the artists in the exhibition is concerned with the “dailyness” of living and the ways in which seeming banal experiences come together over time to create meaning and even define a life. In all of the works selected, the artists’ reveal their interested in the ways pattern and repetition accumulate to create broader, more profound meaning.  Each too is concerned with the variety of women’s experience, choosing subjects or materials that are frequently casually and patronizingly defined as women’s interest. continue…

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A Dialog…

May 06, 2016

Mazza_CHJen Mazza: (A Dialogue of Three Disciplines)
hi Richard,

I was just finishing Joselit’s piece and found it funny/interesting that many of the things he talks about are things I have picked out from other readings. Like this quote by Hito Steyerl, which refers to her medium and documentary film, but resonates with my concerns about painting:

But let me make one thing very clear: to engage in the language of things in the realm of the documentary form is not equivalent to using realist forms in representing them. It is not about representation at all, but about actualising whatever the things have to say in the present.  read more…
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