To the Wind: Portraits by Jazz Minh Moore

“If I can’t be in control of the direction my life takes, at least I can dictate the subject matter of my paintings,” says Jazz-minh Moore about the series of acrylic and resin on birch panel paintings that she is presenting for her first solo show at Chelsea’s Lyons Wier Gallery, opening tonight. The “Slipping Sideways” series of portraits depict Moore herself, her sisters, and kindred spirits like painter and former McQueen model Ulrike Theusner enveloped in turbulent winds, creating arresting portraits of creative chaos. The horizontal orientation of the portraits emphasizes tangled and tussled hair, while the subjects’ expressions range from resistance to ecstasy. Moore honed her precise technical skill by painting elderly subjects. In this series, the artist’s enduring physical vitality, which she expresses as a dancer, yoga devotee, and surfer, infuses an intense sense of movement and sensuality in the images.

Moore was raised on a commune in Oregon, educated in California, and currently lives in Manhattan. I met Moore when I was miserably manning the front desk of an Upper East Side art gallery months after graduating from college. She happened to walk in, and after a few minutes of chatting with her I quit my job to go racing with her through Chelsea. However, Moore is not an altogether unbridled advocate of chaos. “For example,” she says. “I will never actually run away with the circus.” But her paintings reflect all of the inarticulate, messy turmoil in-between: the sex and whimsy, the aggression.