Artwork Detail

Charm School
Paramount Winner, 1996 Wallace Art Awards.

Jenny Doležel’s works are conversations about perception. The motifs of carnival and stage as metaphors for life have developed in her works into vehicles for the exploration of illusion and reality within the human condition. Doležel’s creatures take the role of conductors; within their theatrical set-up, the figures perform to the audience, inviting in and taunting the viewer, as well as providing a reflection on aspects of themselves. The location of the characters in this ‘in-between’ space is very important in creating the tensions within the work – taking the narratives into the realm of a psychological parody of reality.

In Charm School Doležel abandoned a single tableau format and began what she perceived as an opening up and emptying out of the space, to create a much more complex architecture within a single visual field. This compositional ambiguity suited Charm School’s themes of play and power, gender identity, and etiquette. Reflections of the viewer’s reality can be seen in references to pop culture, such as the Madonna-style cone bra worn by one of the characters.

‘Charm School was a pivotal work within my practice, informing my work of a direction that was a culmination of many drawings in pencil, chalk pastel then oil pastel – in the latter of which I was trying to ‘imitate’ the effect of oil paint. Stylistically and technically I carried through my experience of working on Charm School onto the murals The Boathouse on Blackwattle Bay and subsequently onto The City Dreaming mural at SkyCity, and current paintings.’

Doležel is the winner of 21 major art awards in New Zealand and around the world including the Royal Overseas League Award in 1996, and the Parklane Art Awards and Team McMillan BMW Bonnet Art Awards, both in 2006. Doležel has taken up artist-in-residence programmes including the Rita Angus Cottage in Wellington, the Fresno Art Museum in California and the Goethe Institute in Berlin.

Catalogue text:
Published on the occasion of the Twenty Wallace Art Awards Paramount Winners Exhibition.
14 February to 22 April 2012 at The Pah Homestead, TSB Bank Wallace Arts Centre and 2 August to 30 September 2012 at the Wallace Gallery Morrinsville.
Oil on Canvas
1520 x 1800mm
Signed and dated
Accession number

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