A Heart-Shaped Face
Sophia Narrett & Paul Rouphail
March 15-April 28, 2019
opening reception Friday, March 15 from 6-8pm


Jack Barrett is pleased to present A Heart-Shaped Face, a two-person exhibition featuring the work of Sophia Narrett and Paul Rouphail. Both artists—through the mediums of thread and paint respectively—are invested in formal arrangement. Like Zubaran’s carefully constructed “bodegones,” or Manet’s crowds, the placement of people and items possesses equal parts objectivity and sensuality. The spaces in Narrett’s and Rouphail’s work—orchestrated and rendered in seductive clarity—emphasize the strangeness of a seemingly familiar domestic world.

Sophia Narrett’s intricately constructed textile works show women, often unclothed, in the midst of puzzling scenes full of sexual confrontation and contradiction. In Choices, a woman contemplates three men before her, unaware of the game-like patterns on the backs of their jackets. Her peer is perched on wrought iron garden furniture with her legs spread, tenuously grasping a balloon that floats overhead. In another work, a lone figure in a sherbet-colored finished basement drags her hand along a blue shag rug to draw a heart (Press).

In Paul Rouphail’s Cherry Picker, a fleeting, careful vandalism plays out on a blurred windowpane.  A moment of schadenfreude arises as lit matches burn cherries on a vector of a graph and an origami hummingbird—half devoured by flame—meets our gaze with a googly eye. Mustard squeezed along the glass surface and an unfolded grocery list complete the graph. Sophia Narrett’s Grin freezes a similarly precarious instant as a naked woman is hoisted upside down over a cobblestone path by a bemused man in a white tuxedo. Her smile is unmistakable, there is an element of exhilaration in her predicament. Embroidered hearts appear in orange foliage and elsewhere twisted out of banana peels.

In Rouphail’s acrylic and oil paintings there are starkly lit smart-watches displaying heart rate monitors, and heart shaped Post-it notes with listed grocery items. Two paintings, Lavender Room and Moth with Watches depict empty beer bottles and energy drink cans, cigarettes, smart phones and magazines twisted into malevolent faces with “mouths” agape. Like Narrett’s grinning woman, these faces come closer to a kind of bewilderment than ecstasy, approaching a deadpan quality even in their passion.

The heart is at once a powerful shorthand for our deepest desires and a token of profound contradiction. One can have a “good” or “bad” or sincere heart. To “have a heart” can connote compassion or humility, but also sarcasm, schmaltz and desperation. The sequence of events which lead Narrett’s figures to their exertions and Rouphail’s objects into animacy and suspension are laced with this myriad of associations. 

The obvious allusions of the heart aside, the artists’ dramatically concocted scenes merge the saccharine of pop-psychology with the sobriety of real-life disappointment and befuddlement. The nine works on display grapple with the poetics of being in a problem. This problem is one of constant flux and capriciousness. In an instant the image can suggest something overtly political—a climate graph, Rouphail, a summit of men, Narrett—and then transform into a problem of confidence, of intimacy, and violence. And is this not also true of faces, whose volumes morph in shifting light?

Sophia Narrett (b.1988) holds a BA in Visual Arts from Brown University and a MFA in Painting from the Rhode Island School of Design. Her work has been shown at the Hunterdon Art Museum, Clinton, NJ; Lux Art Institute, Encinitas, CA; Museum Rijswijk, Holland; Kunstforeningen GL STRAND, Copenhagen, Denmark; and Jack Barrett Gallery, Paul Kasmin Gallery, the Museum of Arts and Design, the Museum of Sex, Freight + Volume, SPRING/BREAK Art Show, BRIC Arts | Media House and Nancy Margolis Gallery, all in NY. She has participated in residencies including the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, ME; the Museum of Arts and Design, NY; and the Lux Art Institute, Encinitas, CA. Narrett’s work was recently highlighted in a New York Times Style Magazine article, “Some of the Most Provocative Political Art is Made With Fibers,” by Leslie Camhi. She is a 2018 recipient of a Pollock- Krasner Foundation Grant. Her work is included in the collection of the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, and the CAPP Collection of Contemporary Art at the University of Maryland. Narrett currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

Paul Rouphail (b. 1987) received his BFA from Carnegie Mellon University, and his MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. His recent solo and group exhibitions include Smart Objects, Los Angeles, CA; Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, Fisher Parrish Gallery, George Adams Gallery, Nancy Margolis Gallery, and Microscope Gallery, New York, NY; Fjord Gallery and Little Berlin, Philadelphia, PA; The Miller ICA at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA; and White Columns online. Rouphail's work has been reviewed online and in print, including the Contemporary Art Review Los Angeles, Artspace, New American Paintings, Maake Magazine, and Gestalten Press' Imagine Architecture, among others. Rouphail has an upcoming solo exhibition at Stems Gallery in Brussels in the Fall of 2019. He lives and works in Philadelphia, PA and is represented by Smart Objects in Los Angeles.