In Julian Schnabel’s film Basquiat, the title character, exemplar of the flameout credo of the East Village, is assisting an artist-installer at the Mary Boone Gallery. This mediocrity, played by Willem Da Foe, attempts to counsel the hero about the benefits of a reliable day job. Basquiat replies that someday he would show on those very…
At first the eye is fooled – one thinks one is looking at silvery photographs of sublime cloudscapes shot from an airplane above an uninhabited wilderness. Closer examination reveals the patient, expert mark of the hand, as well as an improvisatory richness of imagination that, while consistently illusionistic, is decidedly otherworldly.
This is Jess in a nutshell: sincere literalism colliding with arch semiotics and giving off rare alchemical heat.
I had Kiki Smith over when I had just finished these and she said, You know, you should approach some galleries from a revisionist point of view because usually it’s a male in the studio with a model, or a male at the easel, and here you’re a nude figure in your own studio with all your paintings and your tools around you. There aren’t many paintings like that, she said. So I thought, well that’s interesting, that’s not something I was thinking about—I was thinking about what I feel in my studio, the vulnerability.