Oil on Canvas: Jenny Schade

Jenny Schade, "Stryving," oil on canvas, 2010. Courtesy the artist.

Jenny Schade thinks she was born in the wrong century. The 25-year-old Montreal-born artist has devoted herself fully to painting — pure oil-on-canvas painting. Her large works depict abstract landscapes always populated by a face or a figure. Her paintings are charged with a Beckmann-like intensity. A promising young artist, she has been featured in the 2009 juried exhibition, Fresh Paint and New Construction, at gallery Art Mûr and lauded as “one to watch” in the Montreal Mirror’s NoiseMakers of 2010.  While Schade’s material and tactile canvases always reveal her process, much is still left to mystery.

Jenny Schade, "Stryving," oil on canvas, 2010. Courtesy the artist.

Schade readily proclaims her devotion to oil painting for its richness of texture, its materiality and its weight in time. “Even gesso is paint,” she shares, lighting up about her process, her body gesticulating brush strokes. The young artist even goes so far as to make her own paint, favoring the control of production as well as the personalization of the pigment. “If I had more time and space, I’d set up my own alchemy lab and create all my paints from scratch. I love seeing the pigments and crystals dissolve, the resin that forms…It’s exciting to me because it makes painting even more original and authentic.” Her canvases feature legible brushstrokes and dripping colors; her work is indexical in that she leaves her pentimenti (“yes, that old school term!”) for herself and for her viewers. Schade is undeniably enraptured by her art.

Jenny Schade, "Newd," oil on canvas, 2010. Courtesy the artist.

Over time and through lengthy observation, Schade’s canvases unfold. Partial faces appear from the layers, haunting. Abstract workings of color capture the imagination and juxtapositions indicate complex psychological explorations. In the figures, in the composition, there is something disjointed, macabre yet fascinating. Drawing from her childhood spent between urban Montreal and rural Germany, Schade embraces contrast and seeks balance in her creations through the introduction of the figure. She does not shy away from the dark, menacing and apocalyptic qualities many have found in her work. The young painter speaks with maturity about her paintings, a budding artist fully devoted to her practice.

Jenny Schade, "Stryving," oil on canvas, 2009. Courtesy the artist.

The face, for Schade, has been a tremendous source of fascination. “It is one of the most vulnerable parts of the body, it is how we present ourselves, what people see first.” Ever since an early age, she remembers her natural attraction to faces and all they hide and reveal. The figures that emerge in her painting, wholly created from instinct, memory, and self-realization, capture incredible nuance. Sometimes the faces are not complete, simply a gesture of an expression. They harness an anonymous, ambiguous and androgynous quality that mystifies.

Jenny Schade, "Untitled," oil on canvas, 2010. Courtesy the artist.

A rich chaotic interior world thus comes to life unpredictably on the artist’s canvases. Schade adamantly refuses to ever plan or sketch a painting, committed to an automatist art, an instinctual inquiry. Landscapes unfold, faces emerge. One could get lost in her creations, just as the artist does in her process.

Jenny Schade, "Untitled," clay and oil, 2010. Courtesy of the artist.

Much like her paintings, Jenny’s future remains open. Recently graduated from Concordia University’s BFA program, the Montrealer works part-time as a curator when not mixing her own paints and creating new paintings. Most recently, she participated in a live painting event for the Arts NDG Weekend (a free showcase of local talent in film art and music in one of Montreal’s municipalities). While still invested wholly in putting oil to canvas, Jenny is starting to play with ideas for drawing installations and painting/sculpture assemblages. While it can’t be told or predicted what will come next for this young artist, new work will undoubtedly be full of mature emotion and enrapturing mystery.

Jenny Schade, "Framed," oil on canvas, 2008. Courtesy the artist.