Abstract artist and painter Paul Bramley guides us through York’s diverse and eclectic art scene in a series of articles looking at the artists branching out and shining a spotlight on the city’s talent.
Gesticulating, Jenny Eden swings towards one of her larger paintings.
One of the nicest things about this show has been the way the work has been received for what it is and for the elements it contains. Nobody has said that they can see a duck or a dragon in it.
Clearly she seems to have found an audience effortlessly capable of engaging with her work in Soho, which is where she is having a pop-up exhibition of her recent paintings when I meet her. Jenny got lucky, getting her hands on an empty shop just off Shaftesbury Avenue for a week in late August and with a little help from her friends, hung the show in one mad day, ‘running across Soho with paintings and buying last minute lighting’.
I met Jenny in her Bar Lane Studio one Open Evening last November and since then have been regularly chewing the contemporary abstract painting fat with her on. Contemporary abstract painters number few in York so we have a tendency to stick together. To produce work like Jenny does in York ‘you have to look further a field’ she surmises and you can see her influences whom she cites as Juan Uslé, Gert and Uwe Tobias, Mary Ramsden and Tomma Abts amongst others.
Implying something greater is happening outside the painting is a central point to the Eden philosophy. Abstract geometric forms build up layer upon layer in muted, ambiguous colours. Obtuse, solid shapes sit on top of textured backgrounds (Jenny uses a hand sander to distress some paintings). When looking at one of her paintings you get the feeling that something lies beneath the surface. Tension is created. For bohemian Soho, she pushed the boat out - minimalizing content, playing with retro forms, using more negative space and further ‘knocking back colours’. Her work is ludicrously well thought out. Academic? I ask. She agrees. A great deal of craftsmanship goes into her work. No masking tape. She is stoically proud of her fine hand - drawn lines and painterly discipline.
So what next for Jenny? For a start the Battersea Affordable Art Fair in October this year. Maybe a group show in York. Maybe an MA. ‘I’m going to paint less but really push some existing ideas’, she concludes. Her singularity of vision is impressive. Her work enticing. It merits some serious attention.
Follow Jenny on twitter @jennyedenartist