Seager/Gray Gallery, one of the Bay Area’s premier art galleries and among the gallerists who spearheaded the creation of the Mill Valley Art Dealers Association to raise our community’s profile as an arts destination, is set to showcase the work of Mill Valley native and Tiburon resident Devorah Jacoby from Oct. 1-30, with a reception for the artist on Saturday, October 1, 4-6pm at 108 Throckmorton Avenue.
Inside Out explores Jacoby’s lush and deeply satisfying paintings, which are a deliberate respite from the chaos and challenges of the last several years – incorporating just enough edge to evoke emotional and psychological states. These are paintings of women in private moments, whether they are working through things, as in Lost in Thought, letting their mind relax as in Dream or simply relishing the sensual experience of being in the elements as in Picnic or Beach Blanket. It is essential in all of them that we are not actually there as viewers. It is a glimpse into a private and intimate world.
During the pandemic, Jacoby had the opportunity to spend time in Wyoming, where she was taken by the bright colors of the landscape and the vast expanses of sky. “Nature has played a huge role for me in the last few years,” she says. “In times of chaos, it is nature that tethers, grounds and heals.”
Thirty of the thirty-three paintings in the exhibition have her subjects set in nature. They appear to find freedom and sensuality outdoors as in her work Half of Me is Ocean, Half of Me is Sky, an intensely physical painting in which her subject almost dissolves into her commingling with the elements. Jacoby’s landscapes pulsate with energy. In works like Horizon and In the Wild, the figures are small and appear to have merged with their surroundings as part of a vast natural world.
Jacoby’s exhibitions always feature a large magnum opus of a dining table and this show is no exception. In earlier works, the complexities of family dynamics might come into play, but in her large work, Fruits de Terre, the artist uses bright color and dynamic brushstrokes to set a table of abundance – shrimp cocktail, lobster, bright salads and a lush strawberry shortcake. The female figure stands looking over her elaborate feast, holding her dog beside an outsized vase of fantastical flowers. She is a magician with a butterfly in her hair conjuring up a happy place where we can once again gather together and enjoy the fruits of the earth in the pleasure of each other’s company.
Jacoby enjoys working in themes, relishing particular colors or scenes, as in Keep Checkin the Horizon I and II and the grass-green skirts of Harvest and I Love My Time Here where the color merges with the verdant surroundings.
Two other such intriguing works are entitled I Can Feel Your Heart Beating I and II. In each of these, the figure is standing in a field. She is cropped to fill the space and looks directly forward, holding a large human heart. In one, the figure is also holding a painter’s palette. The interpretation is left to the viewer, but one can imagine that there are two environments in which the artist can speak to the collective heartbeat of the world – in nature and in her studio.
It is in that studio where Jacoby is able explore with absolute freedom. It is there that she has fine-tuned her sophisticated painting style – a fearless exploration of how gesture, color and composition can capture the complexities of being human. In speaking about her process, she stresses the importance of letting go of any expectations or agenda. With her conscious mind out of the way the subconscious resolves itself in a compelling liquid beauty. You want to immerse yourself in these paintings, not only because of the subject matter, but in the luscious, visceral exuberance of the paint.