Spotlight

Spotlight Painter Jack Penny

Championed by Zoë Jordan
The Wick - Spotlight Painter Jack Penny
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The Wick - Jack Penny
Above  Jack Penny
Interview
Zoë Jordan & Jack Penny
03 May 2022
Interview
Zoë Jordan & Jack Penny
03 May 2022
British womenswear designer Zoë Jordan’s love of contemporary art and textures informs her tactile, lyrical and relevant collections. As the daughter of motor racing mogul Eddie Jordan, she draws inspiration from a childhood living in some of the world’s most fast-paced and influential cities including New York and Palma, Mallorca where she now resides, as well as online. It was on Instagram where she first came across British artist Jack Penny’s work.

Jordan says: “The energy in his work just awakened something in me, his vibrant colours and evocative scenes, it felt fresh, impulsive and spirited. Eventually, after much scrolling and limitless liking, I bought a piece last year, ‘Figure in Pink’. I love the mood, the experimentation, the movement, the allure. I love that there are different roads to go down, it’s playful and it keeps me on my toes.”

Penny’s creative practice is motivated by a search for authenticity. He is driven by capturing a real sense of humanity within his work. His largely improvised and haphazard figurative paintings question the sustainability of modern society and the nine-to-five hustle, and take inspiration from the spontaneity of de Kooning, the palette of Diebenkorn, the vulnerability of Baselitz, the vitality of Nick Cave and the subject matter and art that comes from somewhere slightly uncomfortable; such as Louise Bourgeois or Pervis Young.
Penny says: “The painters that really inspire me are often figurative, who capture people in their down, depicting what they do in those moments when they’re not working and have nowhere to be. I choose subject matters such as bars and restaurants, and my current series has a lot of that going on. These German painters created works that on the surface seem fun and like they don’t take themselves too seriously, often with a striking colour palette, but underneath there is more of a conversation about wanting more. I’m interested in the fact that we’re in a time where we all want to feel like a private member, which echoes this culture of greed. A lot of my work is like that — a wolf in sheep’s clothing, purposefully pleasing but deeper down making a comment on the human condition and how we try to fill ourselves through the outside world.

“There is an abstract approach to my figurative paintings where I let them take over and lead the way, I’m led by a fascination in the ways paint can go. I see myself as less of a painter and more of an image maker, as my work is explosive and direct. My latest paintings are a bit more organised, and I’m working on larger canvases that are more detailed, but I like there to be a moment of high risk, where I could have lost control but just manage to get away with it. Seeing issues resolved and a final piece made out of potential catastrophe – an odd colour, something that throws the composition — that’s exciting. I always say the painting has to take its own route. I’m greedy as a painter, I want to enjoy the process and see where it can go.”

Penny is currently working on a solo show with SEAM Agency, which was originally scheduled to open on 1 May but has been postponed as he wanted to add another large painting. This will be his first show in England since 2017. He says: “Since then my other solo shows have been in Hong Kong and Berlin, so it’s exciting to come back to England this summer.”

About the champion

The Wick - Spotlight Painter Jack Penny

Zoë Jordan’s rise to leading contemporary womenswear designer is not your usual story. She studied architecture and worked as a bond trader in New York before putting her fresh spin and objective view on what women want to wear. She launched her eponymous brand in London in 2011 and focuses on clean lines, fresh palettes and boyish elegance. Its combination of natural confidence and wit, and melding the androgynous with the feminine, also helped it to be shortlisted for the BFC/Vogue Designer Fund.

“The energy in his work just awakened something in me.”

Zoë Jordan

Place of Birth

Portsmouth, UK

Education

Studied illustration for two years at Brighton then dropped out

Upcoming exhibitions

“Private Members” this summer

Spiritual guides, Mentors

I’m lucky to have a lot of diverse, creative friends who have an interesting outlook on life, and that is one of my biggest influences. Having peers whose taste you respect is the best kind of spiritual guide

Advice

Find something that’s yours, find your niche


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