Jake Kean Mayman

Jake Kean Mayman

2276 East 16th Street
March 18–April 29

The noble history of painting—and of portraiture, specifically—is nearly as authoritative as practicing the medium itself. To paint someone is to lionize them, a method with slackened, if any, obligations to authenticity, precision, or proportion. Take Joan Quigley, the San Francisco socialite turned expert astrologer. A close advisor to Nancy Reagan and, consequently, the fortieth United States president following an assassination attempt in 1981, her personal influence dictated the timing of Air Force One’s takeoffs, State of the Union addresses, and key debates. Her eponymous portrait (all works 2017) by Jake Kean Mayman is an amalgam of photographs, setting her in perpetual, understated command. The bold graph of her background aligns with the neon tartan of her dress as she suppresses a bemused smile—a token of her exception from the executive branch’s codes, but not its reach.

She hangs near a similarly quiet rendering of Nina Petrovna Khrushcheva, the First Lady of the Soviet Union. Having been upstaged by her elegant counterpart, Jacqueline Kennedy, during a lunch at the 1961 Vienna Summit, Khrushcheva steals off alone to rest her standard-issue briefcase and studiously sketch a stylish replacement for her dated polyester frock. Completing the triangle is cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman to go to space, a full two decades before American Sally Ride’s trip in 1983. Her apt helmet-head hairstyle implies she could be on a mission at that very moment; instead, she is lost in thought among a field of digitally manipulated flowers. Comically reduced airplanes fly through her bouquet. A gradient of mounting-plate brackets, or scraps of masking tape, appear as tromp l’oeil details on a number of the canvases here, as if they were the seams of our eulogizing starting to give. Grand characterizations offer little calm for our nerves now.



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