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JO HAY RABBITUDE


Jo Hay 2014 – 2016


“As a figurative painter, I initially imagined the rabbit paintings would be purely experimental. I very quickly realized that they are equally relevant portraits in themselves. My work is dependent on a variety of paint marks made with different sized brushes and tools. Along with color, the scale and position of these marks is responsible for the vigorous visual activity that I want in all of my work. The rabbits are a place for me to find new ways of constructing a living figure without being concerned with likeness or gender. Instead it forces me to closely examine each rabbit’s personality differences to make each portrait unique. This focused study also helps me to achieve strong anatomical structure and it gives me time to contemplate my unequivocal belief in animal consciousness”. – Jo Hay


Jo Hay’s Rabbitude Featured at the Lionheart Gallery New Exhibition opens on March 20, 2016 through May 1, 2016 Pound Ridge, New York – (February 10, 2016) British figurative painter Jo Hay studied and worked in Manhattan for years—including a run as Art Director for Elle Decor, when she was instrumental in launching the Paris-based magazine in New York—before making her current home in Provincetown, Massachusetts. She is widely known for large-scale paintings that explore sexuality, gender, and identity, as in her self-portrait Dodger which placed as a finalist in the 2015 BP Portrait Award. Hay is fascinated by human psychological and biological perception of gender, and her interest in subjects with both male and female characteristics was first inspired by the glittering androgyny of British glam rock musicians in the nineteen-seventies. Rabbitude marks a departure from these portraits; it showcases new works in a series that Hay has been dabbling in since her graduate school days at the New York Academy of Art. “I initially imagined the rabbit paintings would be purely experimental,” she says of her first examples painted in 2010, calling them a reaction to long hours studying traditional figurative painting. “I very quickly realized that they are equally relevant portraits in themselves.” Hay calls the rabbits an exercise in finding new ways to construct figures without concern for likeness or gender. They help her to deal purely with form, space, and anatomy, and she closely considers each animal’s personality differences to make every painting unique. Rabbits also have powerful symbolic associations for Hay. “My mother gave me a soft toy rabbit on the day I was born that I still have today…aside from being a symbol of great comfort, I see traits of the rabbit personality in my own, especially when making paintings. I relate to their alert, edgy energy and the constant vigilance required to always remain nimble enough to get in and out of fluctuating situations.” “Jo Hay is a wonderful, expressionistic painter who will take you down a rabbit hole into a magical warren,” says Lionheart Gallery Director Susan Grissom. “If you have ever been lucky enough to know a rabbit and their moods and emotions, you will see that Jo paints them in such a way that you can identify their distinct personalities. While Rabbitude features portraits of many sizes, they all have such a strong presence in the gallery that when visitors see them we often hear a loud gasp and then giggles.” Hay’s dynamic painting style incorporates a range of marks made with different sized brushes and tools, which lends a charged air of activity to her canvases. In her own words, “Presenting a full range of calligraphic difference in painting is like playing with a full orchestra. Imagine hearing a symphony played on a single violin!” The same can be said of her color choices, which are clean mixes. She only uses primary colors and white, maintaining firm control over relationships between hues. The result is an often unexpected meld of shades, as in her new triptych—Ziggy, Major Tom, and Blackstar—where black and brown rabbits are articulated in swatches of cerulean, moss, peach, persimmon, and slate.


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“Overall I am looking for a mixture of harmony and disharmony, the decorous and the vulgar, the predictable and the unpredictable, all to maintain strong visual interest for the viewer,” she says, noting recent inspirations in the paintwork and color choices of Philip Guston, Dana Schutz, and Jenny Saville. The portraits in Rabbitude pulse with life. “I have found when painting living creatures that there is an alchemical moment that occurs usually in the middle of the painting,” Hay muses. “It is no longer just a set of particular paint marks but instead the image suddenly feels alive to the point that I experience a quietly disarming sense of it taking a breath.” View Rabbitude by Jo Hay at the Lionheart Gallery’s Exhibition, opening March 20, 2016 and running through May 1, 2016, Wednesday through Saturday, from 11 AM to 5 PM, and Sunday from 12 noon to 4 PM. For more information and directions to the gallery at 27 Westchester Avenue in Pound Ridge, New York, visit www.thelionheartgallery.com or call 914 764 8689.


RABBITUDE


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Blackstar, 2016 Oil on Canvas 60” x 48”


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Major Tom, 2016 Oil on Canvas 60” x 48”


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Ziggy, 2016 Oil on Canvas 60” x 48”


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Blue Jean, 2016 Oil on Canvas 60” x 48”


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Starman, 2016 Oil on Canvas 60” x 48”


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Gilly, 2016 Oil on Canvas 60” x 48”


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The Thin White Duke, 2016 Oil on Canvas 60” x 48”


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Aladdin Sane, 2016 Oil on Canvas 48” x 36”


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China Girl, 2016 Oil on Canvas 48” x 36”


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Dylan, 2016 Oil on Canvas 14” x 11”


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Hermione, 2016 Oil on Canvas 14” x 11”


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Little Wendy, 2016 Oil on Canvas 14” x 11”


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Little Wonder, 2016 Oil on Canvas 14” x 11”


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Rocket Man, 2016 Oil on Canvas 14” x 11”


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Nelson, 2014 Oil on Canvas 30” x 24”


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Hercules, 2014 Oil on Canvas 30” x 24”


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Zephyr, 2014 Oil on Canvas 48” x 36”


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Simon Profile, 2014 Oil on Canvas 30” x 24”


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Simon Standing, 2014 Oil on Canvas 30” x 24”


EXHIBITION PHOTOS


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Jo Hay’s RABBITUDE, 2016


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Jo Hay’s RABBITUDE, 2016


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Jo Hay’s RABBITUDE, 2016


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Jo Hay’s RABBITUDE, 2016


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Jo Hay’s RABBITUDE, 2016


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Jo Hay’s RABBITUDE, 2016


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Opening of Jo Hay’s RABBITUDE March 20, 2016


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Opening of Jo Hay’s RABBITUDE March 20, 2016


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Opening of Jo Hay’s RABBITUDE March 20, 2016


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Opening of Jo Hay’s RABBITUDE March 20, 2016


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Opening of Jo Hay’s RABBITUDE March 20, 2016


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Opening of Jo Hay’s RABBITUDE March 20, 2016


ARTSY EDITORIAL


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From the High Line to a Rabbit Warren, Two Painters Explore Human and Animal Nature ARTSY APR 21ST, 2016 12:45 AM

Serge Strosberg Olga's World, 2016 The Lionheart Gallery

If you’ve ever walked along the High Line—the elevated promenade built on an abandoned railroad spur on Manhattan’s west side—you’ve probably experienced the strange thrill of peering into someone else’s apartment. It’s an unsettling feeling, something like looking at fish swimming in a bowl or an animal enclosed in a well-appointed cage.

Serge Strosberg The Standard Hotel The Lionheart Gallery

That voyeuristic rush seeps into two painting exhibitions currently showing at the Lionheart Gallery in Pound Ridge, New York. Granted, the rabbits of Jo Hay’s “Rabbitude” aren’t actually in cages, and no one feels bad for citizens lucky enough to live in the lush apartments and condos along the High Line (those residents make up Serge Strosberg’s “Tales of the High Line”). Nevertheless, both shows offer windows into human (and animal) lives.


animal) lives.

Serge Strosberg Lust The Lionheart Gallery

Serge Strosberg Julia Under the Red Spotlight The Lionheart Gallery

Indeed, many of Strosberg’s paintings are almost disturbingly intimate. In pieces like Lust or Julia Under the Red Spotlight, subjects are vulnerable and partly disrobed; viewers might feel like they’re trespassing. Not to worry: Though the paintings are based on Strosberg’s real-life photographs, the artist used his own models on location. “I took many pictures in locations that were sometimes adventurous,” he has said.

Serge Strosberg The Afterparty The Lionheart Gallery

Serge Strosberg The IAC Building, 2016 The Lionheart Gallery


The Afterparty The Lionheart Gallery

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The IAC Building, 2016 The Lionheart Gallery

The Afterparty pictures a young woman relaxing on a balcony—a scene you’ll likely glimpse on a cool summer night in New York or any other city. Some of Strosberg’s paintings, like Hopper Highline or The IAC Building, are less personal and more architectural. Viewed together, the paintings capture the grit and glamour of the High Line, “a surrealist place,” Strosberg has said, “where you have plants, glass, reflections, and silence from traffic in a city where it is hard to find oxygen. To me, the High Line is a breath of oxygen and almost a fantasy area.”

Jo Hay Blackstar, 2016 The Lionheart Gallery

Jo Hay The Thin White Duke, 2016 The Lionheart Gallery

Hay, meanwhile, has traditionally focused on human subjects as well, so “Rabbitude” signifies something of a departure for the British figurative painter. Still, her lush, large-scale rabbit portraits could be seen as an extension of her ongoing exploration of sexuality, gender, and identity. After all, each subject seems to have its own personality: Blue Jean and Blackstar are distinct from, say, The Thin White Duke (all 2016; and yes, each rabbit seems to have a David Bowie–inspired name). Hay’s recent paintings draw a parallel between human and animal consciousness. “I relate to their alert, edgy energy,” she has said, “and the constant vigilance required to always remain nimble enough to get in and out of fluctuating situations.” Atop the High Line, those same edgy energies and fluctuating situations are available in ample supply.

—Bridget Gleeson

“Tales of the High Line” and “Rabbitude” are on view at the Lionheart Gallery, Pound Ridge, New York, Mar 20–May 1, 2016. Follow the Lionheart Gallery on Artsy.


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This catalogue was published to accompany the Jo Hay Spring Exhibition at The Lionheart Gallery. Jo Hay March 2014 – May 1, 2016 All images copyright of the artist. Images of the works are reproduced courtesy of the artist and The Lionheart Gallery. Curated by Susan Grissom Designed by Chelsea Walsh Essay by Tori Rysz All rights reserved. No part of this book may be produced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior permission in writing of the copyright holder and The Lionheart Gallery. 914 764 8689 www.thelionheartgallery.com 27 Westchester Avenue, Pound Ridge, NY 10576


Jo Hay Catalog  

Featuring paintings by Jo Hay, including those in her current exhibition, RABBITUDE, at The Lionheart Gallery.

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