In her glass and mirror works, Nicolette Jelen renders perceptually complex depth and space through a meticulous layering of fragile materials - glass mirror and handmade paper. Her processes are reflective of Jelen's multifaceted, peripatetic history and the places she has called home from Hungary, to Morocco, to Paris and New York; she explores the interweaving and balancing of layers that combine to form a whole.
In copper plate engraving, Jelen's first love, multiple plates are combined to impart color, shape and the impression of depth. In her recent works, Jelen employs multiple layers of glass silvered sheets to create images through negative space in which color is subsumed by pure light which is mirrored, refracted and reflected into infinity.
Jelen is a purist for material and technique, be it printmaking, glass-cutting, soldering, or mirroring. The challenge of craft is a constant concern in her work as she commands and transforms resistant raw materials into the desired object. The effects are unexpected, fantastic, utterly out of the ordinary. What emerges in the end is often a surprise to her, a gift - Jelen says. We are left with these magical, vertiginous surfaces.
The iconic and symbolic image of the tree appears and reappears in Jelen's oeuvre through the varied mediums of paint, inked paper and glass. Jelen superimposes delicate branches and leaves onto her industrial, manufacture, hard-edged surfaces and boxes, inviting our eyes to follow the passage of light through the crisscrossing vortex of organic tendrils and twine - into swirling nests or the sweet promise of a secret garden.
The duality and dialogue between the abstract and the representational is ever present, overlapping the natural world of trees and organic forms with the man-made worlds of industrial glass and metal in which these forms are ebedded. This duality extends into Jelen's thin, mirrored surfaces which nevertheless convey perpetual, endless depth, and ultimately lead to a transcendent dialgue between reality and illusion.
The light boxes capture the artist's delight, and are filled with a smaller world of enchantment. As we see ourselves reflected in the silvery surfaces of Jelen's mirrors and glass surfaces, we are transported into that world as Alice was lead into Wonderland through tny rooms. We are drawn through the looking-glass itself into a kind of arboreal wonderland. It's as if we are peering at our own reflections on the magical surface of a still-water pond.
Nicolette’s paintings are the reflection of her vision of many places: forests and glens, skies and seas, with a fascination for light and form. Her work is infused with the spirit and light of the different parts of the world she has lived in, including Morocco, Paris, Transylvania, Hungary and the United States.
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