In Jessica Alazraki’s paintings of dinner tables, you’ll find a delectable selection of things to eat – hunks of sweet pineapple and watermelon, sticky donuts and pizza slices dripping with cheese. But the real sensory experience is provided by the tablecloths that take centre stage in all her paintings. While the figures crowding around each table evoke movement through painterly and expressive brushstrokes, the tablecloths stand out in vibrant clarity. The artist explains that she uses this space “to create an abstract painting within the painting”. Often boasting patterns of juicy fruits or extravagant blossoming flowers, these tablecloths look good enough to eat.
Born and raised in Mexico City, Jessica has been living in New York since 1988. With a background in graphic design, she worked as a senior art director in an advertising company until she had her first child. After quitting her job, she wanted to re-animate the creativity of her uni days so she began scanning around for visual arts classes. “The only class that wasn’t homework-based and fitted into my schedule was drawing”, she says. “I immediately fell in love with it.”
As a Mexican woman living in New York, Jessica feels a responsibility to “open up a dialogue about immigrants”. She intends to bring Lantinx life into contemporary art by celebrating the community’s dancing, Rubik’s-Cube-twisting, texting, violin-playing and hair-brushing through her bright brushstrokes. With her experience in advertising and communications, storytelling has become “part of my DNA”, says the artist. So through her complex compositions she masterfully portrays the chaos, joy and occasional despair that often unfolds around a crammed kitchen table.
When planning a new piece, Jessica gathers photographic references together – “a person I feel like capturing, a portrait that inspires me”. She continues: “I have a vague idea of what I would like to do in terms of narrative, but I like diving into it without much planning.” The one thing that stays constant throughout is that the action will take place around an intricately patterned tablecloth. However, Jessica notes that in recent paintings such as Couple with Tequila and Brushing Hair in Pink, she has been exploring the “intimacy” of the bedroom by replacing the central tablecloth with a bed cover.
Before settling on her trademark style, Jessica experimented with tablecloths in various ways. She started with a series in which she painted directly onto tablecloths. After that, she tried printing the pattern onto the canvas before covering it with paint. With her style now fixed on creating a mini “abstract painting” within a wider more painterly scene, she now wants to focus on making her brushstrokes “more intentional”. In her future works we can expect to see her paintings delve into different colour palettes with a thicker application of paint in the impasto style. As she tells us: “I want to make every brush count.”
Jessica Alazraki: Rubiks cube and rollers (Copyright © Jessica Alazraki, 2021)
About the Author
Elfie joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in November 2021 after finishing an art history degree at Sussex University. She is particularly interested in creative projects which shed light on histories that have been traditionally overlooked or misrepresented.