New York-based modern artist Jeremy Penn, was born in 1979 in New York City and studied
Fine Art at both the University of Maryland and Pratt Institute. His works have been exhibited
internationally and received honors from curators at museums such as The Museum of Modern
Art, New York and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Penn's work is prized within
some of the most prestigious modern art collections in the world. In 2014, Refinery29 referred
to Penn as an "Andy Warhol x Richard Phillips Hybrid."
About The Series
From an early age, we are trained to recognize bad behavior. Distinguishing sin is ingrained in
our psyche from our parents, teachers, and friends. For years, Jeremy has queried the human
response to sex through his artwork as we believe that sex is a taboo, something to be
practiced only behind closed doors. The act of sex, if not for reproductive purposes, is seen as
unholy, carnal and inherently bad. The female form is often misperceived as something
shameful based simply on presentation or adorning specific clothing. When did sex, and in
particular the sexual female form, become inherently sinful?
Of course, the notion that women should behave modestly and be sexually submissive has
explicit roots in religion. The story of steadfast Adam and lascivious Eve teaches many children
from a young age that nudity is shameful, and that experimentation and desire to gain power is
sinful. In the 21st century, contradictions towards sex are everywhere. We are confronted with
endless images of scantily clad women, but women are shamed when mimicking these
representations, for the sake of their modesty. Sex is shown frequently on TV, in movies, in
songs, in art; yet teenagers find it difficult to discuss with their parents. Adverts frequently
entice us by using overtly sexual references, yet we don’t dare to attract one another through
the same process.
In Vice & Virtue, Penn chose to blend modernity with pervading sexual attitudes. He has
deliberately referenced the bold, brash colors of graffiti – as it’s so often on our street corners
and alleyways that we find truth in art; unashamed representations of sex and sin. The viewer is
not only confronted with a deliberately thought-provoking word, they’re forced to see
themselves as part of the image, through their reflection in the piece itself. They’re forced to
acknowledge their own role within the contemporary sexual sphere. After all, each and every
person that views these images is part of the society that inspired them. They’re an integral
part of the art itself. Upon viewing, examine not only the art itself, but also your response to it.
It may reveal more about your own attitudes to sexuality than you realize.