At first glance, one might think Jen Mann’s work is photography, but on closer inspection the viewer is pleasantly surprised to see that the Canadian artist carefully paints each portrait, using oil paints in order to carry out her hyperrealistic style. While Jen Mann paints shockingly realistic portraits, there is always an element in her work that contrasts with her hyperrealism – her color palette.
Mann uses bright and fluorescent colors to create each person, allowing the viewer to feel transported to another world that is full of brightness and beauty. Mann constantly uses shades of pink, blue, orange, and sometimes green – in order to juxtapose warm and cool colors. Not only do the colors allow for an incredible visual experience, but they also allow the viewer to reflect on the portrait’s personality and feelings. Mann allows her audience to reflect on the painting’s human characteristics in her series Self Absolved (2015-16) and Q&A (2013-14), by adding words to some of her paintings. The pairings of written word and visual imagery allow for an experience that encompasses not just visual senses, but provokes through as well.
In her series, Strange Beauties (2012-13), Mann uses paint to create chilling portraits that are both incredibly realistic and even show movement. While painting movement is incredibly difficult, Mann’s paintings make it look effortless. Each person moves off the canvas with grace and fluidity. She paints multiple images of one person on the canvas, some appearing more transparent than others – to express the subject’s movement.
In the same series, Mann also paints squares on some of her images – each a slightly different shade of the same color in order to create pixels. Both the movement patterns and the pixels contribute to the subject’s personality – forcing the viewer to see the portrait in a unique way or focus on particular parts of the subject’s face. It is only fitting to call these beautiful, but unusual portraits, “Strange Beauties.”
While Jen Mann is based in Canada, her oil paintings have been adored by many people all over the world. Whether her work is part of a group exhibition or a solo exhibition, her paintings will always be the ones to catch the spotlight. Jen Mann is able to take the style of hyperrealism and turn it into a bright, colorful, fluorescent, and jaw-dropping experience.