After a fireworks display smoke hangs in uncombed knots and curls across the sky,
    like dragon locks, while afterimages of light-effects float against the back of the eye.
    Similarly Jenniffer Omaitz’ latest series of paintings at her exhibit titled Noise
    recreate the polished surface of the night, remembering the way that light explodes
    across darkness, flashing, lingering, and fading. Her 60”/60” Tweekend is mostly a
    large square expanse of deep black oil paint and glossy medium, glinting with a
    high, reflective sheen, like the hood of a limo -- one parked close to the action.
    That action is a big part of Omaitz’ subject in the works at 1point618 -- the jerking,
    twisting, rough and smooth psycho-social energies of the international DJ scene,
    building bonfires of flaring glitz and hissing electronic noise. Jumping along
    Tweekend’s bottom margin a low horizon of orange and white loops dances from
    left to right, reaching a crescendo with a liquid-looking streak of aquamarine,
    shooting upward at a forty-five degree angle. Beyond that moment of launch, a
    toothy zigzag of Colgate-white chews down across curving sets of yellow and
    lavender lines.

    Omaitz often works from photos taken on long drives. Sometimes she uses filters
    and time exposures, or relies on the motion of the hand-held camera and the car
    she’s travelling in; either way her distortion of the beadwork of headlamps and
    streetlights and neon that decorate the modern night end up transcribing the
    intimate rhythms of human motion. Since Omaitz doesn’t display her photo sources
    there’s no way to know how closely the paintings approximate the images on film.
    But neither reproduction nor depiction seem to be seriously at issue in these
    paintings. The photos they’re based on may resemble abstract works, but Omaitz’
    paintings are the real thing, dependent for their success on subtle interactions of
    figure and ground, line and surface, opacity and transparency, as crucially
    personal as a doodle or a tattoo. Their project is not to reconstruct the chemistry of
    a photograph in oil paint, but to evoke the alchemy of excitement itself, generating
    a visual condensation of all the sensual and chemical shifts that compose a night
    on the town.

    Tweekend reads like an opening gambit, an intro to some song twitched by a DJ’s
    quick finger -- like spotting a casino on a lonely stretch of road. White Noise, by
    contrast, seems like the climactic moment later that same night, a blaring epiphany
    webbing the available space so tightly with white-hot thrills that you have to walk
    right up to the canvas to feel the squeeze of Omaitz’ narrow brushstrokes as they
    frantically obliterate any notion of objective space. This moment of overload builds
    from the edges of the canvas. White lines, alternating in places with semi-
    transparent streaks of garden green and burnt orange, stagger in from the corners
    and edges of the five foot square work. The background here isn’t desert black but
    a rich interior green, like a pool beyond the splash of a waterfall. In the context of
    modernist painting and its afterglow this painting, and almost all of Omaitz’
    explorations here, have to do with the idea of the grid and that a theory of form
    offers solace for the mutability, the death of actual things, the finiteness of events.
    Her grids are bent out of shape, as if under siege from a subatomic realm, warped
    by a physics of passion that flies against the stern walls of such comfort. It is an art
    of ecstasy, and of doubt.

    The most intriguing painting at Noise is another 60”/60” oil on canvas work titled
    Moment of Silence. If it were part of a novel it would be a lengthy vignette about the
    romance and character of line and the way it always embodies the third dimension,
    either through presence or absence, by dividing and cutting or by lying on top of
    things like string across the smooth curve of a balloon, or like a vein bulging just
    beneath the skin. In Moment of Silence the major force is a knotted lariat of light,
    roping in much of the painting’s interior, roan-brown, burnt sugar-rich space. After
    swooping around the perimeter this scud of creamy paint gathers itself into a snake’
    s head loop toward the middle, capturing the viewer’s attention as surely as a cobra
    or a noose. Sweeping transparent currents of blood red coagulate in the upper half
    of the canvas, floating at some depth beneath the white rope, while a spray of more
    delicate pale lines loops across the middle. Meanwhile, up the right side a network
    of curving parallel horizontal lines hook into a vertical arc, like basketry, or delicate
    marine vertebrae. All of these marks seem squeezed on and are raised slightly from
    the surface of the painting, like scars. That they have, on close examination, an
    almost sculptural, quite non-linear quality lends them an air of intense urgency.
    This is not light or a depiction of it, but light incarnate, running or slithering through
    the viscous textures of Omaitz’ splendid night colors with a thousand little feet.

    The risky compositional coherence of Moment of Silence is especially successful,
    gaining visual interest as it moves horizontally and diagonally across Omaitz’
    square format. By comparison most of the smaller works on view are essentially
    studies, lacking the scope that her larger paintings are able to explore. But this is
    not true of two delightful 18”/18” works titled Telephone and Dancing Loops. In
    each of these Omaitz deploys her thick-and-thin, semi-impasto of white paint to
    suggest an object-like, planar presence. Both have a whimsical flair, especially
    Telephone. It’s not easy to pin down just what’s so charming about it, but it has
    something to do with the crooked way the white polygonal shape is split down the
    middle, and the intense long looping of yellow lines that intersect that crunchy,
    chewy, aqua and lavender gap. On another level the image evokes the tangled
    complexity of communication, and perhaps describes the aura of personality that
    sticks to function, as we supplement our soupy biological selves with various
    contrivances. The latest ringtones join Omaitz’ brief index of contemporary tropes,
    filling out a show that is all about what it means to be alive in the night in the 21st

    [Cleveland Free Times 5/7/08]

Night Shifts
Jenniffer Omaitz at 1poin618 gallery
Jenniffer Omaitz, Moment of Silence