In Jenna Gribbon’s paintings, life is about the intimacy of a moment, and art is about the presentation of a memory. Her pseudo-voyeuristic framing is intentional — she invites viewers “to look at their looking,” to be self-conscious of their position and feel a mix of intrigue and intrusion. Jenna explains this is what she likes about figuration, “it doesn’t just blend in. It doesn’t just sit back and behave.” Her uncontained subjects — a pair of women wrestling in the forest or a topless artist posing in her studio — are only as sexually-charged as a viewer might experience them. Accessible through layers of meaning, they conspicuously conceal more than they reveal.


Working from photographs and her own imagination, based out of her Brooklyn studio, Jenna makes textural portraits that lushly abstract personal scenes. With variegations of oil, juicy flourishes and thick patches, she renders a moment gesturally, rather than mapping it with drawn lines. She often plays with light in her paintings, manipulating the mood by casting figures in varied brightness. Her sense of color is informed by her surroundings, with perhaps the exception of hot pink nipples — always the same light, bright hue, nearly fluorescent. The pleasure of her process is evident, mirroring the affection she has for her subjects.


Jenna’s most recent exhibition Uscapes at Fredericks & Freiser in New York features a series of portraits of her rockstar fiancé Mackenzie Scott, a singer and guitarist who performs as TORRES. An obsessive devotion pervades the show as it feels evident Jenna spent much of her time during the pandemic’s lockdown reverently stalking her lover, fondly watching and translating her nuances into oil paint. We are given a veiled window into Scott’s life — grace under pressure, a coy beauty who demonstrates casual dominance with a calm alertness. She knows she is being seen. Titles like Unwanted opinions, Peanut gallery, and Interrogation lightscape indicate a dynamic of hyperawareness while Waiting in bed freshly showered and A piss that’s not abject suggest the offbeat tenderness of their partnership. In many compositions, limbs of bodies are contorted and woven together, verging on landscape. Jenna is not blinded by love, but instead escapes into her fiancé, finding inspiration in close proximity, in the layers of seeing and being seen.



“A Simple Demostration” (2020).


“School library wrestlers” (2019).


“Weenie Roast Wrestlers” (2019).


“The Artist Eroticized (Devan)” (2020).


“The Artist Eroticized (Anthony)” (2020).


“The Artist Eroticized (Haley)” (2020).


“Watching Me Swim” (2018).


“Remote control” (2021).


“Unwanted Opinions” (2021).


“Curtain Free Kitchen” (2020).



Jenna Gribbon photographed in her studio, Brooklyn, New York. October 2021.JENNA WEARS SHIRT BY JW ANDERSON.


All artworks courtesy of the Artist and Fredericks & Freiser, NY.


This story was printed in GAYLETTER Issue 15, to get a copy of this issue, click here.