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Girls & Love #14

Museum Link:

Source Link:

Date Minted: March 16, 2020

Artist Description: 1 of 1 edition of the Girls & Love series by Jenisu 4000x4000 px

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

Superabundance. Hyperbole. Fantasticality. Girls and Love #14, mirroring the bulk of Jenisu’s creations, is a cavalcade of much. Excess is evident in every aspect, from the colors to the details, a startling neon richness that explodes out of what, in the hands of a lesser artist, would be simple details. What draws the eye first? Is it the cartoonish energy of otherwise familiar objects? Is it the dreamscape color palette? Is it the overstuffed nature of the small image, practically buzzing with secrets and easter eggs and things to see? Good luck focusing on just one of these things; in Girls and Love #14, every detail is a doorway. There’s no escaping Girls and Love #14. It has a way of ensnaring your attention. It’s hard enough to look away. It’s too bright to be ignored. 

This is Jenisu’s signature style, the intensely vibrant color palette, the interaction between realistic imagery given a cartoonish skin, the ability to simultaneously seem both coy and explosive. Like a warm blanket, Jenisu’s works are enveloping: the bright pinks and greens and purples and neons, the hyperbolic glow of images that barely keep from vibrating. It’s hard not to feel a pull towards idealized objects: the perfect strawberry on the poster in the top-right sector of the piece, and ditto the sushi rolls beneath it. In this acid trip cityscape, there is a plumpness and a richness that defy the flat banality of the everyday existence it purports to capture.

Like a body without life, this would be a banal scene without Jenisu’s spark. A woman in a large coat stands in some glowing corner of Tokyo (Jenisu denotes it as Tokyo with the correlated hashtags beside the piece) staring at a shop display. There’s a cat. There are bonsai trees in a window. There are advertisements for food, and signs, and system of pipes. But to look at the piece like that, as a collection of what objectively depicts, clearly sidesteps its appeal. Normalcy is a matter of familiarity, after all, and Jenisu adds enough sheer psychedelia into this piece to keep any aspect of it from feeling familiar. Red and yellow wires, cascading like falling noodles, fill empty spaces between buildings. As do neon advertisements. As do flowers. Completely ordinary street items —the electrical boxes on the sides of buildings, piping, air conditioners, streetlights— are injected with whimsicality, painted over in rainbow hues and positioned in pleasing patterns, stretched out and twisted. They become mere allusions to what they are. When given life via Pop Art infusions of bright color, they cease to be what they so obviously are. We are asked, via Jenisu’s overloading of a normally-boring environment, to imagine an entire world drenched in these technicolor hues.

Jenisu says of her artwork: “I aim to pull the viewer into my imaginary world with realistic perspective and scale, combined with my signature color palette and detailed outlines.” Her imaginary world is impressively realized. Each fresh look at this piece, and I’m sucked in further. I’m sucked in by the rainbow of soda bottles arranged in the vending machine there. I’m sucked in by the psychedelic flowers and hearts painted on bare surfaces. I’m sucked in by the woman in the comfy-looking coat, and her perfect lips and her fuzzy bag. I’m sucked in by details that emerge slowly, and a piece that seems to shift with every fresh observation. 

There’s a certain and unavoidable sense of life in all the detail, in the backgrounds, in the arrangement of Japanese letters, the bold outlines, and the swinging, hanging, jangling quasi-movement of the background. Doesn’t it seem like Girls and Love #14 is begging to break free of its static prison? Doesn’t it seem desperate to move, this unfairly immobile world? Observing this piece, I’m instilled with a desire to see this piece in motion, to hear its cotton candy sounds, or to sniff the flowers or to know what’s within the shop in the background, what the woman is looking at, what the cat in the background is about to do. Things seem just about to step forward, release their sounds and scents. It’s a consequence of the energy in the piece, a reflex of the color and the vibrancy. 

By that, I mean there’s a certain kineticism at play here. The image really seems to crackle and glow. It accesses perfection only available to the animated, where all strawberries are plump and all alleyways appealing. There’s a history of this in animé specifically, where women have unrealistically idealized body dimensions, where food is of uncommonly pleasing color and shape, where lightness and innocence and comedy can be imposed on even the most dour of circumstances. Jenisu has created a city where it never gets dark, where everything is fashionable and the walls pulse with life, where every appliance, every advertisement, every street stall is imbued with this quasi-cartoonish vivacity. I don’t know what this piece “means” per se, or what it wants to comment on. I know only that I look out the window at dying grass, at burnt orange trees that are most certainly not electrified with color, and am reminded how ordinary so much of the world is. Ordinary from familiarity. And Girls and Love #14 peddles in unfamiliarity. It is fully through the looking glass. It’s engaged entirely with the unreal. And, my god, how beautiful that makes it.

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