Writing Archive

A Gold-Feathered Bird Sings in the Palm

New York Sun, March 30, 2011 (read there)

Starting from automatist drawings in pastel, Jennifer Riley works up crisp arrangements of colored lines, cannily manipulated so that they appear to enclose a looping white stripe. This stripe delimits shapes filled in with a joyful selection of hues, and the resulting oil paintings have considerable graphic power. Pleasingly noodly and loaded with allusive speed, they take a surprising gestural approach to geometric abstraction.

Jennifer Riley: Fire-Fangled Feathers borrows its title from the poem "Of Mere Being" by Wallace Stevens. "A gold-feathered bird / Sings in the palm, without human meaning, / Without human feeling, a foreign song." Indeed, the coolness of the paint application and the elegance of the curves suggest something that exists beyond human concerns, something Platonic or even Pythagorean. But like Stevens' poem itself, these works deliver pleasure capaciously.

Word count: 133

Return to Archive