Jess Valice: Human

Human is a solo exhibition by the Los Angeles native-born and raised artist Jess Valice, which showcases her recent paintings usually the eyes that you notice first. Huge, heavily covered pools, steadfast and weary, as if their owners had been through something recently, but still held on, in touch with the world.

But by contrast, there are also the ears: oversized, sometimes mismatched in color, sometimes reddish, the artist deliberately makes herself or her subject a clown. The distinction of who is ambiguous; her portraits look like near-deformed caricatures of her own features, but even in double portraits, everyone she paints looks a bit like her. Then, her comedic melancholic cast shares a range of emotions at once—a general sadness, exhaustion, and stoicism, while realizing that expressing uncut melancholy (and focusing on oneself, even in the age of confession) may itself be quickly lost and will disappoint others. Instead, humor, self-deprecation, and absurdity are ways to keep your audience connected with you as they find the work not only about the creator but about themselves.

For the artist, her art is based on reaching out, which of course is not to say that her heaviest feelings are unique to her. No one gets through this life unscathed, everyone has to find a way of living through their whirlwind, plus, more recently, their unsolicited participation in collective disasters like epidemics. It's one of her characters, with a rosy nose and flat lips, crocheting a green thing that's currently tiny, in contrast to the knitter's huge, bulbous hands. There is a sense of escapism from handcrafting, breaking the mold, serving as an escape pod for their minds, and also providing the comfort of creating things.

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