Jean Kondo Weigl

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Archived in 2022

Portrait of a woman with a short bob in her studio.


Jean Kondo Weigl is unabashedly a figurative artist. Dutifully devoting herself to formalistic non-objectivity early in her career, Weigl eventually allowed free forms to morph into recognizable imagery, ultimately relinquishing to the human figure in the 1980’s. In that intuitive process, she compiled her own “repertoire company,” human and animal, performing in familiar stage sets, interacting with objects that codify into an iconography. Weigl’s narrative paintings, drawings, and prints are enigmatically biographical in content and in style, revealing the discernable, diverse artistic traditions that have impacted her development; the flat, spatial anomalies of Japanese ukiyo-e-prints; the lugubrious palette of Die Brucke; the sinuous line of certain Surrealists, the deceptive naivete of folk art.


A third-generation Japanese- American, a native of Berkley, CA, Weigl attended Scripps College in Clermont in 1970 then went on to earn a MA in Studio Art at Oberlin College parlayed into an MFA in Painting and Drawing, awarded at the University of Utah in 1979. Locally established and nationally exhibited at venues such as the A.I.R. Gallery, New York, NY, the Sande Webster Gallery, Philadelphia, PA, University Gallery, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA and widely lauded from the onset of her career, she has served as a Visiting Professor at several academic institutions, including her alma mater Oberlin College.


Weigl has never confined her “cast of characters” to painting; she is a prolific, published illustrator and has segued into theatrical set design. In all the incarnations of her art, belying surface simplicity, she avoids the sanguine and embraces the disturbingly whimsical, with a studied, crude technique and ominous palette, reverting to her formalist roots. Weigl notes: “The figures are often presented as performing a journey, procession or play, appearing to be coming or going – either waiting, or watching and saying goodbye. These motifs are what allow the human and animals to interact with one another and also to provide a way to veil or soften the underlying sadness in the paintings.”