American artist J Louis lives and works in New York. His oil paintings present skilfully rendered female figures as the central protagonists. Though tender and graceful, these women are self-assured, occupying the painted surface with bravura and command.

 

We perceive these women in contemplative and often curiously surreal poses. They conceal and reveal the environment, dissecting it through perspective, gesture and form. They act as guides through the painted space; their elongated anatomy highlights, divides or unites the composition.

 

There is something distinctly dreamlike about these worlds, heavy with atmosphere and exaggerated gesture. The painted environments are ambiguous, flattened, serving only to frame the forms of his subjects.

 

J Louis layers his work with thick, impastoed texture, distinguishing areas of soft flesh, coarse drapery and synthetic surface with masterful draughtsmanship. Outstretched limbs, hair and cloth trail beyond the image while the figures themselves look away from the viewer, their gaze focussed entirely on an unknown entity that exists just out of reach. Here, the artist curates a tantalising atmosphere of anticipation, asking "what is happening?" and "what happens next?"

 

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