Talk Art is back!!! To kick off the new year 2023, we bring you an exclusive interview with artist JAKE GREWAL on the occasion of his major solo show of new paintings at Thomas Dane.
In Jake Grewal’s paintings and drawings nude figures, nearly always male and often based on the artist’s own image, inhabit verdant forests and woodland landscapes. Unmoored from any specific time or place, Grewal’s dream-like scenes are spaces of desire and projection, where the artist’s exploration of self opens out into narratives surrounding the fractious relationship between human and nature, and the search for an idealised place of queer communion. Grewal’s figures appear at once in harmonious cohabitation with their natural surroundings and seemingly on the verge of being consumed by them, an ambiguity that suffuses his works with an atmosphere of quiet uncertainty and longing.
Drawing is central to Grewal’s practice. In his charcoal and pencil sketches, images and narratives are slowly brought into focus, often through the insistent repetition of an idea made in different mediums, on varying grounds and scales. There is an intimacy and expediency offered by charcoal and graphite that Grewal harnesses and embeds in his work in order to lend his figures the quality of being just out of reach. The exhibition includes a number of small charcoal studies made in the studio and out of doors the close-cropped framing of bodies and natural forms makes them feel like fragments of much larger scenes.
Sketching from Old Master paintings informs the way in which Grewal constructs many of his images, drawing from painters such as Constable, Corot, Degas, and Gauguin; artists for whom a deeply evocative relationship to the natural world was central. Close scrutiny of these works allows Grewal to extract formal passages and devices from a quintessentially European landscape idiom and transpose these onto the landscapes of his imagination. As stage sets for subjects cast in the image of his own body, Grewal’s works challenge the entrenched white, heteronormativity of the Western canon of painting.
Once Grewal finds an image that holds enough complexity or embodies a satisfying sense of evasiveness, he will explore the image in paint. Now I Know You I Am Older brings together a number of new works depicting single or double figures, though the multiplying of figures in Grewal’s work can often be read as the observation of a single figure across time, a cubist interrogation of physical and psychological space, or like the unfolding of a filmic sequence. Grewal puts pathetic fallacy to dramatic effect, using twilight or dramatic sunsets to add a sense of drama or foreboding to an image. In If I Stay You’ll Break Me (2021–2022) a piercing orange light cleaves the canvas in two, turning a large tree into a dramatic tracery of shadowed forms across a brooding sky; two ghostly figures appear in the centre of the work but appear to have been erased. In another large-scale image two figures walk across a watery landscape that recedes into an infinite sublime. The open expanse and quiet movement of its protagonists present an open-ended scenario onto which the viewer is invited to project any number of narratives, their purposeful stride towards a place not yet discovered.
Jake Grewal (b.1994). View Jake's show at Thomas Dane until 28th January 2023, free entry.
View at https://www.thomasdanegallery.com/
Follow @JakeGrewal on Instagram and their website: http://www.jakegrewal.com/
Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.