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Press Release

Petzel Gallery is pleased to announce Make My Day, a solo exhibition by Joyce Pensato of six “eyes” paintings from the year 2000 and 2001 that the artist made in Paris. This is her fifth solo show with the gallery and her first at its Upper East Side location.

Over the course of her career, Pensato has returned time and again to the motif of eyes as a way to step back from the literalness of the full cartoon character face and refocus on expressive abstraction inherent in the circularity of a character’s eyes. Although sometimes the origin of the eye motif can be known through its title, such as “Felix” or “Donald,” it is the disembodiment of the eyes from the face that interests the artist, as it frees up the picture plane allowing for either singular or multiple interpretations on one panel. In the multiple iterations, as seen in this body of work, instead of one character, many are revealed, sometimes looking left or right, up or down, or even seemingly from one set to another. The eyes are often repeated in such way as to invoke a kind of stop animation, further emphasizing the artist’s interest in seriality and repetition. All six paintings were made in Paris based on a toy the artist picked up at a local shop.

Joyce Pensato was born in Brooklyn, New York, where she continues to live and work. Her works are on view currently at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, and both institutions have premiered her new vinyl wall works of collages in her studio. She has had numerous solo exhibitions, including at the Santa Monica Museum of Art (Santa Monica, CA, 2013), which traveled to the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (St. Louis, MO, 2014), and at The Museum of Modern Art in Fort Worth, TX. Her works are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the The Speed Museum, Louisville, KY; and the Sheldon Museum, Lincoln, NE. She has won numerous awards, including the Robert de Niro, Sr. Prize (2013); the Award of Merit Medal for Paintings from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2012); and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Award (1997). She was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1997.