Jess Lebow

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Jess Lebow



This body of work reflects my desire for accuracy—my desire to recognize all details and translate them into an all-encompassing representation of “reality.” Concurrently, it undermines that desire: though the images differ, they all correspond  with a single referent (me) and their multiplicity shatters the possibility of a singular, unified representation of this referent. What’s more, although I depict myself from the side, from above, from below and head-on, the viewer never confronts a full image; instead each depiction is fractured. The absence of a singular bounded representation implies that there is no unified understanding to be ascertained by the viewer and that, no matter how much the viewer “knows,” there is more to know.  I use myself as the subject for the study but the concept is meant to transcend this choice of subject and to translate to a larger interpretation of the impossibility of “true,” whole, or unmitigated knowledge.

The work developed from study of the copying techniques of French academic masters such as William-Adolphe Bouguereau and Jean-Baptiste Greuze and grew to explore the sensitive renderings of Albrecht Dürer whose attention to detail through printed marks (rather than brushstrokes) inspired my depiction of light through crosshatching of ink line. The capacity for precision provided by the ink reflects my impulse towards detail and the large blank spaces and washes attenuate that impulse, blatantly blurring the images so that they purposefully deviate from any visual “reality.”

I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the Casstevens Family for providing funding that made this project possible and to my father for making the custom frames.