Jane Corrigan at Feuer/Mesler, New York

A week before the exhibition opened, Jane snaps a shot of the glistening wet canvas and poles her captive online audience, “should she have pants, or no pants?”

Identification with female subjects, nude or otherwise, is almost inevitable when you’re a girl – supposedly a female subject yourself.  Natural comparisons are made; an assessment, not only of the two-dimensional, painted figures, but also of oneself.

The subjects of Jane Corrigan’s latest painting series on view at Feuer/Mesler are predominantly female.   Painted in effortless, unbounded gestures they ooze a nervous, ill-articulated and uncertain femininity that confuses the imperative of an indentificatory process.

I’m stumped. The characters, while uncannily familiar, simultaneously confound me.  I recognize their transgressions, but they register more as dreamt experiences, not lived.   I’m not even sure what social rules they disobey, but they look either afraid or ashamed of something. Or is that me?

I won’t mention Jane’s sexy-as-fuck painting skills. She’s a master, it’s as simple as that, and I’m too jealous to talk about it any further.

The subjects I will talk about, because they intrigue me. I look for myself in the micro-narratives.  Bare-assed by the river; I’ve done that, but not so sneakily.   Searched through the darkness for demons lurking in the shadows; sure, but not with as much grace and fortitude.  Sat half-naked in the kitchen, heartbroken, my overbearing mother combing my hair; nope.

I haven’t seen Jane in at least three years, maybe more.  We studied together at art school a lifetime ago.  She’s as dedicated now, as she was then, and I’m still impressed.  She is also precisely as warm and welcoming as ever.  Seamlessly switching from self-assured artist, to big-hearted hostess, and back again, she proves herself as complex as her characters.

I asked myself before leaving the house, “Pants? No pants?”  Impulsively I opted for the pants, and as I soon discovered so did Jane.