Jennie Ottinger creates dramatic scenes from everyday life. She allows the viewer a glimpse into her highly animated and expressive narratives. Her unpolished aesthetic and sometimes crude subject matter are always underscored by a dark sense of humour which lends a lightness to her satires.
Her recent works highlight the tension between populism and exclusivity, and insiders and outsiders in clubs, teams and organisations. Tryouts (2015) focuses on cheerleaders, a group which is stereotypically categorised as being exclusive yet popular and particularly unfriendly to non-members. Ottinger questions what the benefits are of such groups and what social advancements they inhibit.
In Chances, Choice, Chases (2011) Ottinger explores our impulse to read classic books. She creates a quick solution to digesting well known fables through her paintings and books. Using the casual vernacular of our modern time, she summarises synopses of classic tales. Creating a concise summary, the plot and character descriptions are stripped down to their bare essentials. Ottinger glues together the pages of hard cover classic novels, cuts out the centre blocks of pages and places her hand written summation in the empty space.
Her accompanying paintings of scenes from the classic tales give viewers a snap shot of the book’s contents where a few words and images suggest the infamous story lines. Like Grant Wood, she presents the characters more as archetypes than individuals, relying on costume, prop and setting cues for their identity. Similar to the loose unfinished qualities of Marlene Dumas’s paintings, Ottinger leaves much to the viewer's own ability to fill in the blanks. Her expressive characters visually bring to life stirring plot points from the novels along with the more subtle narrative defining scenarios. Her playful adaptations of classic stories allow the reader the pleasure of absorbing the main points of the novel in a mere few minutes.
Jennie Ottinger was born in 1971 and lives and works in San Francisco. Select exhibitions include You Know I’m No Good, Contemporary Jewish Museum San Francisco (2015), Letters and the Predator, Johansson Projects, Oakland (2015), Doubles Trouble, Conduit Gallery, Dallas (2012), Chances, Choices, Chases, Eleven, London (2011).