It seems quite scripted that as soon as I sit down to write about Jane Dickson’s work someone outside my apartment shouts, “Get the fuck out of New York!” It’s not that this is about Jane’s work, or her work screams any sort of “fuck,” but it’s about a backdrop, a nighttime buzz, of language being overheard, of the rumble of life that is heard/seen just off the canvas of a Jane Dickson painting. It worked in writing this, or thinking about Jane’s work because she makes something so vivacious seem serene. NYC, in particular Times Square in the 1970s, is at the heartbeat of her bodies of work, and she somehow took what is often portrayed as a chaotic, salacious and what some would say unhinged energy and turns it into a peaceful piece of electricity. She stops time and quiets it down.
Fist of Fury, her new solo show at Alison Jacques in London and timed after her participation in the 2022 Whitney Biennial, capture a restless and sleepless era of Times Square but with the vantage point of a bird’s eye view, flying through, with its own sense of purpose and democratic vision. There is no judegment here, just angles, lights, a cacophony of brightness with her signature black backgrounds. What is critical here is that although Jane has been painting the subject since the 1970s, many of these works were painted over the last 5 or so years, a challenge and practice of memory. Jane says of the show, “Did I convey this as powerfully as I experienced it, and if not, is there a way I’d like to convey it today that maybe comes at it from a new angle and nails it?”
In a post-pandemic world, there is something rather raw about our cities. We are still capturing our footing, our use of public space, our energy, our private and public personas. Fist of Fury, and Jane’s eye, come at the right time. As she revisits, she is managing to remain completely in the contemporary moment. —Evan Pricco