Artist in Focus: Rebecca Ness

Jack+Shirt
9x12 inches
Gouache on Panel
Jack+Shirt 9x12 inches Gouache on Panel

Rebecca Ness is currently a M.F.A candidate at Yale University New Haven, CT. Ness’s work tows the line between abstraction and representation, but is rooted in sensational compositional decisions that make the viewer question both physical and psychological space in humorous and relatable ways.

Her paintings range in subject, with figures in static motion tying their shoes or playing sports to portraits of shirts that reflect a personal identity without the figure.

Ness’s painting skills are on full display with her shirt series. These paintings crop out the face and focus on pattern, texture and soft layering that pays allegiance to contemporary painters Elena Sisto and Catherine Murphy.

Ness’s work is aware of her contemporaries but does not copy it. There is a sense of youth and humor in her work that brings me to feel a lot compassion for her subjects. I am most impressed with her commitment to composition as a way to navigate painting and figuration.

She isn’t leaving her painting up to time, layering and mistakes. Instead, Ness, at a very young age is committed to making specific work about unspecific people. Her approach to ambiguity in making these painting allows an openness that urges me to connect to these paintings. At the same time, this ambiguity lives in a very specific composition and tone that makes the paintings hyper specific. She is painting about figures, and these figures are doing everyday tasks, but we don’t know who they are.

I have been following Rebecca’s work for over a year, mostly through social media and most recently in her group show at Brilliant Champions in Brooklyn, New York. To me, she is an artist to watch and someone I suspect we will be seeing a lot more of in New York.

Cynthia
12×12 inches
Gouache on Panel

Cynthia
12×12 inches
Gouache on Panel

Gardner
68×80 inches
Gouache and Acrylic on Canvas