Here are some recent paintings and drawings of mine from the best 6 months. Message me for more info.
I recently made a vow. A public promise. A blood oath. It went like this:
JJ VOWS TO PLOW AHEAD & GUARANTEES TO BE BETTER
This promise is part of an artwork, titled Public Trust, by Paul Ramirez Jonas at the Contemporary Art Museum Houston. In this work, the vows of participants are made, copied, and displayed amongst vows made in the news.
One paper copy is hung in the gallery and eventually added to the artist’s archives. The other copy is now hanging in my studio. I will keep the message in my mind to continue moving positively forward.
If you have any questions about my involvement with Public Trust or my work, please contact me.
Check out the show Ramirez’s ATLAS, PLURAL, MONUMENTAL now open at the Contemporary Art Museum Houston through August 6. Keep an eye on the horse…
A country road. A tree.
Estragon, sitting on a low mound, is trying to take off his boot. He pulls at it with both hands, panting.
He gives up, exhausted, rests, tries again. As before. Enter Vladimir.
ESTRAGON:(giving up again). Nothing to be done.
VLADIMIR:(advancing with short, stiff strides, legs wide apart). I’m beginning to come round to that opinion. All my life I’ve tried to put it from me, saying Vladimir, be reasonable, you haven’t yet tried everything. And I resumed the struggle. (He broods, musing on the struggle. Turning to Estragon.) So there you are again.
I don’t like to over-philosophize or politicize if I don’t have to, but sometimes we are called to do things we don’t want to do. I’ve always felt that “truth” within the political spectrum was amorphous at best, and should be treated with whole helpings of skepticism and humor. Such views lead to my interest in the existentialist and absurd writing of Camus, Beckett, and even the more contemporary Lemony Snicket (whose books were recently given the Netflix treatment). The Dadasists and Surrealists also presented such circuitous topics through their readymades and poetic paintings. Ernst, Duchamp, and Maurizio Cattelan probed questions of existing on this earth through wit and cynicism.
In our current political climate, this absurdist attitude seems even more viable as one of the world’s “greatest” countries is taken over by a group of circus clowns (coincidence that Ringling Bros. is shutting down after 146 years?). In the face of adversary, where logic, reason, and “fact” are thrown out the window, a similar absurd attitude only seems logic, though the very logic used to validate it also condemns it.
Philosophical-political musings aside, I have begun a series of portraits reflecting the current milieu.
The series started, as most good projects, unintentionally. With three canvases, I began three paintings, and three portraits emerged. Each portrait combines pop culture, painting, and the self to reimagine personal images. As facts are deconstructed and presented through various media, personal identity is similarly deconstructed. Our different personas on different media abstract any true identity, leaving us to question if there is any true identity under any of the obscuring layers.
I’m not sure if these paintings are actually finished, or if they ever will be…
“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”
― Albert Camus
I know I’m three weeks late for a New Year’s blog post, but the way I see it, I’m 11 months early for a post in 2017.
I finished up my 366 drawings of 2016 project with the self portrait above. For 2017 I wanted to do something different, so I have decided to draw every picture that I take on my phone.
The reason behind this decision was because I often take pictures with the intent to draw or paint them. However, most of the time, my images because unused and forgotten. Now I am committing to turn this pictures into something.
A result I did not foresee in this project is that I now have to draw every picture I post on Instagram. So when I draw an image and post it to Instagram, I then have to draw the drawing of the original image. This is an interesting caveat to the project. After multiple reproductions, the images slowly deteriorate into abstraction, much like when you make a copy of a copy of a copy, etc.
The example above started as a photo of my 2016 sketchbooks, then I subsequently drew 3 images, each one based on the last. The last drawing I just took a photo of, so now I am required to draw that. Many of these drawings end up much simpler then I intend, but that is due in part to my limited time as a 9th grade art teacher.
I am hoping to post more on this blog (hopefully keep it short and sweet), so make to to check in every once in a while.
My lack of updates here has not been from lack of work, but rather the opposite. This final semester of school has been one of the busiest of my life, and I proved to myself and to my school that I have both the skills and the work ethic to produce successful pieces of art.
The main focus of my semester has been my senior thesis, the final piece of which you can see above. For my thesis I decided to provide an institutional critique of education through the lense of the University of Cincinnati’s DAAP program. My thesis was broken down into a solo show and a final group show with all of the other seniors.
My solo show consisted of seven hanging sheets of acetate containing text related to education. The end pieces were the definition of a student and a university, respectively, taken from the OED and printed onto a sheet of acetate. Moving inward, the text was taken from school and student group mission statements as well as faculty and student interviews. This text was hand-inked onto the acetate and became messier and less discernable toward the center. My goal was to present the two sides of education and show the struggle between them.
I also included paper on the wall for viewers to share their thoughts and opinions on various related topic. This way, viewers were invited into the space of work and could add to the piece. In doing so, the work became more social and opened a necessary dialogue within the institution.
This piece hung in the halls of DAAP for the three days of my solo show and transformed throughout its short life in that space.
For the second part of my senior thesis, I presented a variation of the above work in the DAAPWorks show, an exhibition of all the DAAP senior’s work. For this, my work was hung in a gallery, so I reimagined and added to it.
With this piece, I rehung the acetate in an ascending fashion, with a final empty bar, and a painting on the wall. The piece was titled “Raising the Bar,” which was my call to the School of Art students and faculty to improve our overall quality and effort. Whereas my piece in the solo show was an objective view of education and DAAP, this piece involved my own thoughts and feelings on the subject.
My piece also won the Director’s Choice Award. Not too shabby.
And after this, I still managed to graduate, go me!
Of course, I made a lot of other art during the semester, and hopefully I will get around to posting more soon!
I recently had the pleasure of chatting with artist Jaybo Monk at his studio in the Kreuzberg area of Berlin. I arrived not exactly knowing what to expect, and I left with my mind buzzing with new ideas and information shared by this wizened raconteur.
I first saw Jaybo’s work on Instagram. I was immediately attracted to the abstract image which, upon further inspection, was made up of realistic renderings of body parts. After more research I discovered his studio is located right here in Berlin and emailed an inquiry to visit. Surprisingly, he responded quickly with confirmation that I could indeed stop by and see what he was working on. Even through his emails I could get a feeling of a genuine, honest man with a passion for art. Our interaction reaffirmed this, and I was able to pick the mind of a true artist.
Jaybo Monk was born Jeremy Baudouin in a small village in southern France. As a child, he worked on a farm and drew. He loved Mickey Mouse and would copy complete Mickey Mouse magazines (including the ads) that he would receive every week. This exercise foreshadowed his creation of Berlin’s first independent magazine, Style & the Family Tune, in the 80s. The magazine, with its name taken from funk band Sly & the Family Stone, offered an eclectic mix of music, fashion, art, and more (More info of the mag here). After the magazine, Jaybo transitioned into studio art after an artist dropped from a show at a friend’s gallery.
In his cozy, though mostly unheated studio, we chatted about art, books, music, and the world, amidst the mass of materials yet to be turned into art. Jaybo’s work mostly consists of paintings, but also includes Dada-esque sculptures made from found objects. When I arrived, Jaybo was pulling a bad Renior flower print out of the gaudy framed that enclosed it, with plans on painting over it. His work develops from one step to the next, usually started with Surrealist mark-making, be it smearing material on a canvas or creating an etching of his studio floor. By the time his has completed a painting, the expedition of art has allowed him to create a figurative collage hinting at but revealing no complete figure. As he says, his works are about absence. The loss of a friend, which he seems to have dealt with all too much, a wallet (all to real in my case), a painting, whatever. These things are what he wants to represent in his work.
Though I had questions prepared to ask him, our conversation flowed freely and ranged a variety of topics. I peppered him with questions about his background, art history, and technique, but we veered into topics of philosophy, hip-hip, and gentrification. The beauty is that all of these things are encompassed in his work, and hopefully someday, mine as well. He presented his influence from heavy-hitting figures such as Duchamp, Rauschenberg, and Francis Bacon, as well as the more elusive names like Ray Johnson and Andy Goldsworthy. In terms of music, his roots begin with hip-hop, which he helped spread in Berlin during its genesis, but have now spread out to more avant-garde names such as John Cage. Philosophers like Camus stir his imagination during early morning readings, and we both agreed on the honest, bleak, yet sympathetic work of Bukowski. His love of poetry comes through in his word choices and phrases, which would hit me out of the blue like a stone thrown by a friend. When I expressed to him my worries of my post-graduation art career, he responded:
“You need things in your head and your heart to put on canvas, and its not paint.”
I discovered from our chat that Jaybo Monk participated in a group show, a solo show, and two art fairs (totaling to a sum of 28 pieces) in the last 3 months. He is indeed a busy man. Yet, at the end of it all, he has the time to let a complete and random, albeit charming, stranger come to his studio and take some time away from his work. Beyond my appreciation and interest in the painted collages and sculptures that he makes, I now have a definite gratitude for Jaybo Monk himself. We developed a connection between our interests, traded names, and he even gave me a small drawing. A true artist; a true man.
As a native German and trailblazer of contemporary art, Joseph Beuys is very well represented in Berlin. The Hamburger-Banhof has three large rooms full of his work, which includes pieces of basalt, huge chunks of tallow, and a stage full of blackboards from his famous lectures.
A certain professor of mine has a profound love of Beuys and piqued my interest in his work. Though I can’t say I fully understand everything about Beuys’ pieces or performances, I am always moved by the way Beuys engages his audience. He is famous for saying that everyone is an artist and that teaching is his greatest work of art. I am lucky to have a lot of exposure to his work, especially while staying in Berlin, and it is leaving a great impression on me.
Currently running at the Berlinische Gallery is an exhibition featuring work from Galerie Rene Block. Artists such as Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter, Nam June Paik, and Joseph Beuys were represented by Rene Block. There were many posters and recordings from these artists, but not much actual work. However, they did have a video taken of Beuys’ seminal work, “I Like America and America Likes Me.” It was Beuys’ first show in America. The performance included him locked in Rene Block Gallery with a coyote. I sat and watched the whole 37 minute video (watch an informative video of the performance here).
The performance is an incredible thing to watch. The separate forces of man and nature coming together as one in an art gallery. At times Beuys and the coyote are friendly. Beuys feeds it and tosses leather gloves that the coyote catches. Other times, especially when Beuys wraps himself in the felt, transforming himself into an ethereal creature, the coyote attacks him and rips the felt.
However, there was something else in the gallery that I focused my attention on. The museum is preparing for a Max Beckman show opening soon, which means that it is pretty much a construction site. Certain galleries were closed off, and you could hear power tools at work behind the curtains. In the main hall there was a man painting the large wall grey using a roller on a large extended pole. I watched him paint. Mesmerized. Long straight lines of grey industrial paint layering over each other in flat sheets. Done with precision. The man, with earbuds firmly in place, looked at me confused. I could tell his wasn’t sure why I was there watching him. I looked at him, not sure if he realized he was the artist.
Also, as I watched the video of Beuys’ performance, I could see a man painting a makeshift wooden door. He worked on a felt dropcloth to catch any paint. Felt, the same material that Beuys covered himself in during his performance. To me the actions are essentially the same, just that one performer did not realize he was performing. I stood leaning on the temporary wall in the exhibition space, watching the Beuysian felt monster fend off a coyote and a professional painter work in his element.
After, I went upstairs to see the other exhibition, but not even caring for the paintings I was looking at. There was art happening in the space that had grabbed my attention.
As far as my own artistic production is concerned, I have made the painting you see below. It is a painting of a picture I took of Beuys’ Capri Battery: a lightbulb powered by a lemon. The piece was in a display case, so when I took the picture, there was a reflection of my jeans. While painting, I was reminded of the Rolling Stones’ album Sticky Fingers. The cover, bursting with innuendo, shows a male crotch complete with working zipper, an idea formed by Andy Warhol. So I gave my painting a little pop culture pizazz by adding a painterly textured zipper. I wonder what Beuys would think….
I am a bit late in posting this, but I need to share some photos from Prague!
Prague was one of my favorite cities to visit. The architecture was astounding and the landscape beautiful. Though I was there for about 24 hours, I tried to see as much as I could. All the highlights are here.
It started as a foggy day in Prague. I crossed the Charles Bridge and headed toward St. Nicholas Church. I went up to the tower which offered a spectacular view of the city. The sun was hiding behind the clouds and I kept waiting for the light to break through..
…which it did after I left the tower. I did get to go inside the actual church which was beyond extravagant. Classic Jesuits. Kind of.
After the church I went to the Petrin park. By that time it was a beautiful autumn day and I enjoyed the hell out of it.
While I walked through the park and enjoyed the day, my camera ran out of batteries. From then on I figured the rest of the experience was only for me to enjoy.
My cross Europe journey continued over the weekend into Hungary, specifically the capital, Budapest! Budapest is a beautiful city that I learned is actually two cities Buda and Pest, which are divided by the Danube River.
I got to meet up with some good friends of mine, two who live in Budapest and were our local tour guides.
We walked along the Danube, marveled at the architecture of the city, and climbed up the hill to the Buda Castle and church. You can check it out in my pictures.
Budapest was a blast, and it was great to experience Hungarian culture. Next stop, Prague.
Wow. What a city! I only got to spend two days in Amsterdam, but I did as much as I could while I was there. Right out of the train station I was met with an incredible view of the canals and buildings of Amsterdam. I stayed right along one of the canals and was within walking distance of everywhere I wanted to go.
My first stop (of course) was the world renowned Rijksmuseum, though on the way I ran into a good Dutch friend of mine. Maybe you’ve heard of him
This statue sits in Rembrandt Square and is modeled after his painting, the Nightwatch, which resides in the Rijksmuseum.
The painting is enormous. The figures are life size, yet they tower above you. I stood in front of that painting for a long time admiring the precise detail and various textures among the different clothes and objects in the painting. The play of light in the painting, which Rembrandt is especially known for, is very unique, and plays an important role in the painting. You’ll notice that two figures are illuminated: the girl at left-center and the man to the right. These bright figures frame the central figure, the general, who gives orders to the rest of the militiamen. Though there had been many previous paintings of groups of soldiers, Rembrandt was the first to create such a dynamic and active painting in honor of the guards of the city.
Though the Nightwatch is not a great example, Rembrandt was also one of the first painters to paint texturally. When you look at his paintings, you can see globs of paint that he built up on the painting. God I wish I could touch it!
After the Rijksmuseum, I meet up with some friends and wandered around the streets and canals to enjoy Amsterdam’s famous nightlife.
My second day of Amsterdam included the Van Gogh Museum, which I was most looking forward to, and the Stedelijk Museum, which houses modern art.
I wondered how many actual van Gogh paintings the museum would have because there are so many throughout the world. Answer: a lot. And they are all amazing. You get to see his progression from muddled landscape painter to an artist who depicts all the highs and lows of the human condition. The museum also does a great job of incorporating the work of other artists, who both inspired and were inspired by van Gogh.
My favorite paintings in the museum were the ones above and below this silly writing. The pictures I have here do not do them justice. The colors in the crab and in the background are unlike anything I have ever seen before. Even after over a hundred years, the colors are electric. The subject itself is all too similar to the struggle of the artist, the struggle that van Gogh dealt with all his life. On the other hand, his painting Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette is hilarious. I love this painting. Its so goofy. I have no idea how Van Gogh thought to do this, but through this painting, he was able to bring the dead back to life.
After the Van Gogh Museum, I went to the Stedelijk Museum nearby to see more contemporary work. The museum ranged from post-Impressionism all the way to performance art and work from the 21st century. My highlights were Max Beckman, whose paintings I thoroughly enjoy, Martin Kippenburger, whose work I had never seen in person before, and Roy Lichtenenstein. He paints comics, its great! The museum also had a special exhibition on Zero, a group of mostly German avant-garde artists who worked in the 50’s and 60’s.
The museum also had a special exhibition on ZERO, a group of mostly German avant-garde artists who worked in the 50’s and 60’s. There was much sculptural and minimalist work with a conceptual spin. Below, the artist fuses a TV and a stool into one worthless object via a fuckton of nails.
I got to see a retrospective on ZERO at the Guggenheim last year, where I was introduced to Yves Klein. He was a brilliant painter, sculptor, and artist in general. I was most amazed at his fire paintings, where he basically used a flamethrower to burn canvasses, which he presented as paintings. A video of this process was included in the show, and it was badass. Below is one of Klein’s blue paintings. He became famous for these paintings, which usually only included this same hue of blue and sponges, painted blue. In fact, the specific hue has been named International Klein Blue.
After the Stedelijk Museum, I took a quick rest at my hostel, then wandered into the hazy streets of Amsterdam and made some friends. Though I saw what I wanted to see, there is still so much for to do and see in that incredible city. Amsterdam, one day I will come back to you, and once again we will celebrate the grand mystery of life in a way that only you can provide, you crazy sonuvabitch.
And tomorrow (and by tomorrow I mean in five hours) I’m off to Budapest!