Jeanette Mundt's second solo exhibition at Company Gallery features works that examine the intersections of painting's formal elements with contemporary culture. Through the use of familiar genres, such as still lives, portraiture, and interiors, Mundt seeks to challenge the historical weight of these motifs and their traditional representations. Taking direct inspiration from painters such as Edward Hopper, Francis Bacon and Édouard Manet, Mundt draws herself, both literally and metaphorically, into an archetypical visual history. Mundt further subverts these images through enmeshing, collaging, blending and enfolding these exalted canons within more personal or esoteric references.
Movement is a driving force within the works on view. Figures and animals rendered in motion, reflect Mundt’s continued investigation into the interrelationship between body and the confines of spatial composition. Oftentimes the actions of her figures, fractured and smeared, appear violent and it is within this unraveling or tearing apart where profound beauty is laid bare. In several paintings, Mundt exposes herself in a gesture of pulling apart her abdomen, a motif taken from medieval tapestries and illuminated manuscripts. In these depictions, however, the gore of entrails is omitted. What remains instead is a surreal suggestion, one that highlights the shifts in perception across time and cultural contexts. The Mundts in these paintings pervert the gaze—the viewer and the viewed are explicit in this savage scene.
This strange act of fissuring also surfaces in Mundt’s paintings of female Olympic gymnasts. The body-violence present in these works serve as a reminder of the physical and emotional toll that is often demanded in the pursuit of ambition. In Best American: Simone Biles II (2023) Mundt renders the gymnast with sharp precision on loosely painted bands of primary colors. The athlete is pictured rotating inverted, with the incredible power required of her signature move. The repetition of the single figure becomes disjointed as if viewing Biles in real-time.
Mundt plunges into the complex relationship between societal expectations and self interest. At the center of these works is the pursuit of autonomous individualism. In some cases, these subjects thrive in extraordinary physical strength, and in others, they must look inward to survive. What is most acutely recognized is the pressure on the individual to perform and, as a woman, how much harder one has to try, longer one has to last, and louder one has to be to succeed.
Hung in the gallery’s towering northern space, dense clusters of foliage are monolithically rendered in vibrant color. Mundt based the flowers in these works on a multitude of artists from Van Gogh and Courbet, to Albert York, Odilon Redon, Mary Cassatt and Amelie von Wulffen. Petals and leaves drip with pigment on a sepia-toned linen substrate. Solitary blooms, amidst clusters of roses, tulips and ranunculus, shift in scale and are blended into the verge of abstraction. Populating these compositions are feuding hummingbirds, blurred by their own agility and speed.
Jeanette Mundt currently lives and works in New York, NY. Solo exhibitions include those at Company Gallery, New York; Overduin & Co., Los Angeles; Red Tracy, Copenhagen; Société, Berlin; Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, New York; Bridget Donahue, New York; Off Vendome, New York; and Green Gallery, Milwaukee. Mundt’s work has been included in the 2019 Whitney Biennial as well as group exhibitions organized by David Zwirner, New York; Kaufmann Repetto, New York and Milan; G2 Kunsthalle, Leipzig, Germany; Greene Naftali, New York; Galerie Neu, Berlin; and Peter Freeman, Inc., New York. Her work is included in multiple public collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; the Aïshti Foundation, Lebanon; Kistefos Museum, Norway; and the Museum Ludwig, Germany. Mundt currently lives and works in New York, NY.