Jesse Mockrin takes the romance and impressiveness of Rococo painting, the 18th century style known for its scenes of love and amorous encounters, and reorganizes it into small pieces. The Los Angeles based artist’s portraits have been described as “angelic Frankensteins”, tightly cropped images of classical figures like privileged youth and secret lovers where only an ear, curvy fingers, or part of their attire appear in the frame. In one painting, “Harvest Moon”, an anonymous woman’s delicate fingers stroke the body of a dead bird, taking the focus from the woman and making death and mortality the new subject of fascination. More recent works offer a new perception of well known images like Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s “The Swing”, portraying a young gentleman concealed in the bushes, observing a lady on a swing being pushed by her spouse, who is hidden in the shadows.
As the lady swings forward, she kicks off her shoe and lets the young man get a glimpse of the underskirt of her dress. In Mockrin’s version, the artist zooms in and dramatically changes the context of the piece, now a more comical image of a gentlemen’s hand reaching out almost maniacally for the flying little pink shoe. The background greatly enhances the era’s overabundance of floral prints, flowers and leaves, feminine details that are given more symbolic importance in the larger scale. Works like these demonstrate how important the placement or arrangement of visual elements are to the way we experience a work of art, as well as the power of simplification. Jesse Mockrin will exhibit new paintings in her upcoming solo exhibition at Night Gallery in Los Angeles in March.