Homage to the Creative Spirit: The Paintings of Jenness Cortez by Baylor University art historian Karen Rechnitzer Pope (AMI Publishers) has been named recipient of the 2012 Independent Publishers “Outstanding Book of the Year”gold medal.
Cortez exhibits perennially at DeBruyne Fine Art in Naples’ fabled Third Street South Gallery District. Her current series of paintings is titled Homage to the Creative Spirit. Each is a still life that revolves around an iconic masterpiece that has touched Cortez’s heart and soul. Cortez places the painting in a lush interior and surrounds it with objects that make allegorical and metaphorical reference to the artist, his genre, and period during which he created the work. The result is a mindboggling combination of impeccable workwomanship, art history, and riddles worthy of The Mentalist.
Cortez is a member of a select group of artists sometimes called photorealists. Only a handful of modern day painters have the eye, technical skill and intestinal fortitude to create photorealistic works of art because each painting takes months to research, weeks to draw, and upwards of two to three years to complete. Consequently, it comes as no surprise that Jenness Cortez’s body of work is as limited in number as it is broad in scope.
According to Independent Publishers’ awards director Jim Barnes, the Cortez book exhibits “the courage and creativity necessary to take chances, break new ground, and bring about change––not only to the world of publishing––but to our society. The masterful realist paintings by Jenness Cortez and insightful commentary by Karen Rechnitzer Pope represent the most heartfelt, unique, outspoken and experimental literary and creative achievement among our 5,023 entries.”
In the book, author Karen Pope surveys and celebrates fifty-four paintings that display the range and variety of Cortez’ achievement. A key to the impact and success of each work of art is the skill with which Cortez achieves meticulous likenesses of everyday objects. This quality of realism, both sensuous and immaculate, offers exceptional visual pleasures.
To create each homage requires a virtuosity reminiscent of DaVinci or Michelangelo. Because she is creating a still life that incorporates a masterwork from the past, Cortez must not only blend portraiture, figurative work, landscape painting and equestrian art into the motif of her still life, she must express a fundamental comprehension of the concerns and goals of the artists who pioneered the classical, impressionist, expressionist and magical realist movements. She does not merely copy Renoir, Holbein, David, Manet, van Gogh, Inness, Wyeth or Rockwell. She pays tribute to the styles of art they created and advanced.
“Sometimes the finished piece appears in the mind full-blown, and at other times it is amorphous––yet with some beguiling character that begs to be developed,” says Cortez of her own creative process. “In either case, between that first inspiration and the finished painting lie hours of research, thousands of choices and, of course, the great joy of painting. The process is organic. Even with a well-conceived composition in place, the painting has a life of its own and the best ones surprise even the artist with twists and turns that outshine the most clever of plans. It’s as if the creative spirit insinuates itself into the work, wanting to serve its own best interest with solutions that far exceed the artist’s original, limited vision.”
Executive Director of the Palos Verdes Art Center Robert Yassin calls Cortez one of the world’s most eloquent and successful visual conversationalists. “All art is a dialogue, a conversation through the medium of the artwork between the artist and the viewer,” Yassin postulates. “It is the level of that dialogue that establishes the intrinsic value of a given work. Among the many characteristics of a real work of art, two are most significant and define both the quality and significance of the dialogue. The first is that what the artist is saying must be meaningful; the second, that it is clearly communicated and understood. In Cortez’ paintings, both criteria are more than fully met. The work talks to us at many levels and creates in us a sense of both understanding and well being. This happens because there is nothing arbitrary in Cortez’ paintings. The choice of the painting reproduced, the elements surrounding it, the space the elements occupy, the lighting, the color, everything is carefully selected and orchestrated following a fully articulated plan determined by the artist . . . The paintings of Jenness Cortez make my heart sing.”
Cortez was last in Naples on January 26th for a reception marking the opening of her 2012 exhibit at DeBruyne Fine Art. Several paintings from Homage to the Creative Spirit may still be viewed and purchased at the Naples gallery along with Homage to the Creative Spirit: The Paintings of Jenness Cortez. The book may also be purchased on the artist’s website.
DeBruyne Fine Art is located at 275 Broad Avenue South in Naples. For more information about Jenness Cortez, her work or Karen Rechnitzer Pope’s award-winning monograph, please visit www.debruynefineart.com or call 239-262-4551.