Jessica Rimondi’s Paintings Evoke the Passage of Time

by James ScarboroughPosted on

Jessica Rimondi knows the ravages of time. How flesh will sag and then decompose; how unlived-in-interiors fade, get musty, and, then crumble. She shows this in portraits that melt before our eyes. The flesh is waxy if not blistered. It bleeds down the surface. It’s like being inside a coffin and watching time-lapse photographs show just how organic we really are. She shows this in her unpeopled interiors where rooms otherwise perfectly articulated slough into what can be called domestic entropy. It’s not in the least morbid because the processes she describes are natural, are obvious. Time passes and so do we. It’s a state makes that us human and kudos to the artist for reminding us of our mortality in such a poignant way.

But it’s the way she frames these portraits and empty rooms that makes them, ironically, come alive. When she paints a figure, only a portion of the face decomposes. The rest is either unfinished – outlined in pencil – or done. Rimondi takes the process of making a work of art – the sketch, the fleshing out – and turns it into a metaphor for our existence. It’s said that, on the cellular level, we begin to die the moment we are born. Same here. States of generation and degeneration exist side by side. We witness the birth of a work of art; we see its realization at the same moment we acknowledge our temporal existence.

Ars longa, vita brevis: nowhere is that more apparent than in the artist’s interiors. The rooms appear long-abandoned. But through the windows (and one open door), we catch a glimpse of an eidetic, Edenic landscape. These landscapes stand in stark contrast to the desuetude of the rooms through whose windows we look. It’s not that nature is immortal and perfect, it’s that our snapshot memories of it are. The most startling thing about these views-from-a-window is the way they make us think of – indeed, cherish – such isolated and perfect moments, even as we continue along our mortal path.

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