Press Release: Jenny Dubnau / Aaron Holz

For immediate release:


Fiendish Plots is pleased to present FAMILY, a two-person exhibition by artists Jenny Dubnau and Aaron Holz.  Both painters focus on portraiture and have extraordinary facility, having been trained in the centuries-old traditions of Western painting while also embracing our digital world.  Family focuses on those relationships that come from an intimacy steeped in observation, close proximity and time—even if that time is abridged.  FAMILY explores the emotional and psychological core of these bonds in a pungent and direct manner. 

Jenny Dubnau is contributing two paintings of each of her parents.   Her work is as concerned with the flawed truth-telling qualities of photography as it is with the Realist tradition to portray observable reality.  As Dubnau says,  "The work concerns itself both with photography and the Realist tradition in painting. There has been a potent interchange between photography and painting in contemporary portraiture: Thomas Ruff references Paintings’ scale and format when making his head photos, as does Rineke Djikstra.  I find myself highly affected by photography as well, but mostly in an emotion-soaked way: photographs freeze “in-between” emotional moments (enigmatic facial expressions) and function as talismans of mortality, both in their depiction of “what really was,” and in their ability to capture a fleeting moment in time. In my mind, this circles around back to the history of portrait painting. I experience the fleeting time-sense of Velasquez or Vermeer in a similar way to that of a photograph, and for me, the literal qualities of the photograph lend themselves to a Realist approach. By Realist, I am referring not simply to representational painting, but to the strand of thought which extends from Northern Renaissance painting to Hals to Manet: that is, an art that seeks to show, even if harshly, what is truly there, and to have the idea of that “truth” (of course, all painting is pure fiction) provide the emotional springboard for the art. I think that allowing the photographic references to remain overt in the paintings also serves to create a necessary sense of distance: for me, that tension between emotional charge and mediated distance is an important one."


Jenny Dubnau received an MFA from Yale in 1996. In 1995 she attended Skowhegan, in Maine. After receiving her MFA, she returned to New York City, and moved to Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where a large community of artist friends were settling in. In 1997, she received a grant from the Elizabeth Foundation. In 1998, she is a recipient of a Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation studio residency. She received a Tiffany grant, in 2002, the Rema Hort Mann Foundation grant, and a Guggenheim and Pollock-Krasner in 2004. In 2008 Dubnau received a New York Foundation for the Arts grant and a Joan Mitchell Foundation grant. Her first solo show was in 2000 at the Clifford-Smith gallery in Boston. Since then she's had solo shows at Bucheon gallery in San Francisco, Black & White gallery in Brooklyn, PPOW in NYC, Bernice Steinbaum gallery in Miami, the Greeenville County Museum of Art, and in 2011, the Aldrich Museum. In recent years her work has been included in exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C., and the National Academy Museum in NYC.

Aaron Holz has included two drawings and one painting of his three daughters.  As Holz says, "The painting and drawings included in this exhibition are of all three of my daughters.  The painting is of my first-born daughter, Greta.  Greta arrived with multiple complications including a heart condition that gave her a very short life of nine months.  The other two works are drawings I made during a residency in Mexico of Sophia and Addison in 2007. James McNeill Whistler professed to be perplexed and annoyed by the insistence of others upon viewing the painting he made of his mother as a "portrait." In his book The Gentle Art of Making Enemies he wrote, “Take the picture of my mother, exhibited at the Royal Academy as an ‘Arrangement in Grey and Black.’ Now that is what it is. To me it is interesting as a picture of my mother; but what can or ought the public do to care about the identity of the portrait?” Of course, he is only partially correct. I am very interested in the formal construction of images—the relationship of the figure to the ground, suggestions of space—as is every artist who sets out to make something. But the nature of the sitter does carry weight. This is the first time that I have exhibited the drawings of my youngest daughters and this is also the first time that all three of these works have been shown together."

AARON HOLZ (b.1972, USA). Aaron Holz' solo exhibitions include A Heart's Hot Shell, RARE Gallery, New York, New York (2011); Of Heads & Hands, Focus Gallery, Sheldon Museum of Art, Lincoln, USA (2010) Portraits, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, Nebraska City, USA (2009); Takedown, Rourke Art Museum, Moorhead, Minnesota, USA (2009). Group exhibitions and Projects include [When We Dead Awaken]; Beers.Lambert Contemporary, (Feb 2012); [After School Special], University Art Museum, Albany, New York (2011)); Single Fare, 224 Grand, Brooklyn, New York, (2010); and Face Forward, LeRoy Neiman Gallery, New York, New York, (2009), He is recipient of the Harold & Esther Edgerton Assistant Professor of Painting Award (2009); and the Nebraska Artists Council Distinguished Artist Award (2007). His work has been published in the New York Times, Lincoln Journal Star, The New York Sun and NY Arts Magazine. He holds a Master's degree from University at Albany, New York, and lives and works in Lincoln, NE.


DATES: September 26 to October 26

HOURS: Sat and Sunday from 12 to 4 PM and by appointment

OPENING: SEPTEMBER 26 from 5 to 9 pm

ADDRESS: 2130 Magnum Circle, Lincoln, Ne. 68522