This exhibition will include seven large, exuberant new paintings, along with about two dozen small, dense and tightly executed pieces, installed in a single band around the gallery walls. This will be Fine’s seventh one-person exhibition at Pierogi, although her first in the gallery’s Lower East Side location.
In her paintings Fine strives to give new meaning to the old feminist adage “the personal is political.” For example, “Zuckerman Memorial Garden” with its electric palette, was begun joyfully, in late 2016, as we seemed on the verge of electing our first female President. “The giant rainbow is a girlish sign of optimism—the sort of thing I might have scribbled on my 8th grade notebook while watching TV.” As she reworked this painting in the months after the election, she thought about the profound emotional and conceptual gap between the cheerful American dream of her childhood and the growing disappointment and disgust of the Trump years.
When Fine was in junior high school, she “adored the TV show ‘Love, American Style,’ with its sugar coated dream of a slightly racy and romantic adult future. The show was just one of many bits of popular culture that formed me: flower power, paisley prints, The Jetsons, and an endless supply of peculiarly happy TV family dramas. Of course, all of this was an illusion, a cover-up. Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, I was as much formed by an awareness of Vietnam War protests and urban riots as I was by a high dose of saccharine TV. One of my most formative experiences was the JFK assassination. I saw all the adults around me in tears. The realization that they were temporarily powerless was unthinkable….”
Fine’s paintings are rooted in the language of abstraction, complicated and contaminated by a buffet of signs and symbols: flowers, rainbows, sunrays, smiles, planks, tape, patches, bricks, flags, barbed wire. “During the last two years, it seemed that every awful bit of news was a reminder that we had to resist distraction and follow the money. With that, the dollar sign crept up in painting after painting.” The swastika entered her vocabulary in the summer of 2017, after a weekend of highly publicized white supremacist marches in Charlottesville, Virginia. Fine says, “As a Jew, I was especially shocked to see Nazi symbolism on prominent display. I felt certain I had to re-contextualize the swastika by including it in my paintings. I wanted to mock this symbol of hate, rather than be afraid of it.” (It is worth nothing that this year two other Jewish women painters—Mira Schor and Judith Bernstein—have been using similar imagery).
All happy families are alike, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. —Tolstoy.
Then in January 2018, with the country deep in the revelations of the “Me Too” movement, alongside a steady stream of Trump’s misogynistic and lurid sex scandals, Fine discovered a bit of shocking news close to home. She learned that the man, whom she had called dad for over fifty years, was not her biological father. Suddenly nothing was quite what it seemed to be, and she found herself rethinking much of her childhood.
This is when the show title “Love, American Style” came to her. “It is a reference to Trump’s scandals and to my own; it refers to a love of money, a love of art, and to the cultural life of the late 60s that formed me.”
Jane Fine studied at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and she earned a B.A. from Harvard University. She has received two Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grants, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and two NYFA Fellowships in Painting. Fine has been invited to work at Yaddo, The Millay Colony, The Hermitage Artist Retreat, The Golden Foundation, and The Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. This year she was a recipient of The Pace Foundation Residency for mid-career painters, at The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.