Jen Aitken was born in 1985 in Edmonton (Canada) and grew up in Toronto, where she still lives and works. She received her BFA in 2010 from Emily Carr University in Vancouver and her MFA in 2014 from the University of Guelph in Ontario. Aitken creates ground sculptures from concrete that evoke Brutalism from architecture, and in doing so succeeds in evoking a double feeling, on the one hand sturdy, on the other delicate. They consist of recurring shapes that she casts herself and puts together, as if they were puzzles. It invites the viewer to observe them all around and to discover the logic of the construction. They are anything but ostentatious, but the enjoyment of their understated presence brings a visual reward, especially when one has an eye for the details in her images, the texture and the subtly coloured surfaces.
In addition, drawing is also an important part of her oeuvre. She explains it herself as a faster way to create shapes, paying particular attention to the “peripheral spaces” that arise from that speed. She has already produced several series of drawings, each with a different idea and end point. Her 2013 series of pen and ink drawings, for example, is inspired by the late Guston’s whimsical clumsiness. In her ink drawings from 2016, she demarcates a space, creating a completely new space at the same time. Finally, with the ink on vellum series from 2018, she connects a pattern of surface lines with an insinuation of sunken lines, suggesting that the actual drawing continues elsewhere. With this she evokes a duality of what can be seen and the memory.
The idea ‘Less is more’ absolutely applies to her work.