Modern Mythology


Jessie Makinson, a London-based artist, opens her next exhibition at the François Ghebaly Gallery in Los Angeles. Her well-known female figures with mythological features come to life in paintings with intricate narrative stories.

Jessie Makinson is known for her humorous, imaginative and sometimes disturbing depictions of female figures realised within paintings, drawings and installations that often take inspiration from classic mythology, art historical canons, science fiction and contemporary pop culture. The London-based artist through her artistic world seeks to redefine the roles and possibilities of woman in art in a seemingly disorganized image, but one that when analysed in depth follows a true poetic structure. The viewer becomes aroused in the narrative story to the point of reflecting on the representation as if he were a character in the painting. The Makinson continues her process of depicting female figures in fantastical settings with a new exhibition in Los Angeles at the François Ghebaly Gallery entitled Hoof of Bone. Once again the artist imprints her androgynous signature with multiple literary and mythological references that go to form scenes of rich sociality, guided by the narrative voice of herself.

Makinson, All the same bubbles, 2022.

For her latest work she takes on new themes juxtaposed with more familiar ones, mixing subjects derived from disparate references and spanning centuries of literature, visual art and tradition. Wihitin her orderly clutter are references to Georgian political visor, Adam Wisniewki-Snerg robot, fairies and UFO sightings. Hoof of Bone, the exhibition’s title, derives instead from Hillary Mantel’s 1992 historical novel, A Place of greater Safety, during a scene in which men on horseback violently subdue a crowd of Fresh Revolutionary rebels: in addition to the literal meaning of the phrase, the title for the artist describes union “of where, when and why man and animal meet”. Anthropomorphic female figures with horns, tails and thick fur writhing in front of semi-abstracted landscapes inhabit the artist’s fantasy world and create a real narrative that through studied details make the image realistic.

“I think about where the figures and spaces meet. Of the place where cloth touches skin, of how bodies press against each other in moments of pleasure and trauma.”

– Jessie Makinson

Makinson, We shall be monsters, 2022.
Makinson, We shall be monsters, 2022.
Makinson, All the same bubbles, 2022.
Makinson, We shall be monsters, 2022.

The severed head, a somber element that echoes the images of Medusa, is a playful way for the artist to indicate the animalistic and often sly sociality that characterises her own images. The artist’s paintings behind female or animal figures conceal a complex sense of inner and personal exploration: smaller formats such as I know that bird (2022) and Can I have my kiss back? (2022) highlight Jessie’s interest in human and animal forms as containers of light, color and space. The panel The smell of hysterics (2022), on the other hand, offers isolated and more formal examples of the color study. The artist’s inspirations come from mythology and classic culture, finding the sensitivity to recreate a modern narrative full of hidden meanings, in the right the balance of her messy sensibility and the strange order of our times.



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“They bother each other, care for each other, cut each other’s heads off. They put their hands inside each other. Like they are surgeons or butchers or mechanics fixing a robot.”

– Jessie Makinson

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