Artist STATEMENT & Bio

Artist Statement

My ongoing series began in 2011 with a portrait of Claude Cahun and the goal of unearthing major figures of the avant-garde. My project is a series of imaginative portraits of women artists, writers, performers and patrons working at the advent of Modernism, whose names and works have often been forgotten. My large (and medium sized) paintings on paper aim to present these lives in a rich visual tableau.

With an MFA and an Outsider Art style; painting, hand drawing, hand-etching and a variety of patterns, such as Moroccan and Ukrainian, French wallpaper and Elizabethan era florals Left Bank Women are "unconventional" portraits of expatriate and French women artists, impresarios and writers, working in and around Paris in the early 20th Century. My process begins by studying my subject’s biography and their own writing/art/ public works, etc. until I imagine a visual scenario, which develops as I proceed to include their idiosyncrasies and relationships with humans and other animals.  The viewer can either revel in the uncovering of history/herstory or merely appreciate the work’s magical and surrealistic elements.

Paris Works are a series of smaller companion pieces to Left Bank Women. They arise out of studies and alternate "story-line" ideas to the bigger works and are explored through a variety of different media.  

My work owes itself to Surrealism, the Pattern and Decoration movement, Feminism in its many waves and Outsider Art.



Irys Schenker received a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1997 and an MFA from the School of Visual Arts in NYC in 1999. Upon graduation, she exhibited work in the first Liverpool Biennial in the UK and at Kappatos Gallery in Athens, Greece. 

She participated in "Face Value," at White Columns in New York City in 2000, and was a guest at Yaddo in 2002. Additional shows at E31 Gallery, Athens, Greece, the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art in Snug Harbor and Asya Geisberg Gallery in NYC, The Jewish Museum, San Francisco, and Bronx Museum of the Arts . Her work has been reviewed in Time Out NY and The New York Times. 

Irys was a resident laureate artist in Paris at La cité internationale des arts in Summer 2017 and 2018.