Presentation at Hawthorn Arts Centre, Saturday, 10 October 2015
Philip Kreveld welcomed and introduced Jesse describing him as an excellent draughtsman and mentioning his recent art awards and indicating that Ken Hayward had also facilitated the opportunity for Jesse to talk.
Jesse began with a biographical note or two;
He grew up in rural Victoria near the Murray and his mother was a landscape artist. He noted her work but was not involved in painting when young.
He spent a lot of time alone in the country and grew to enjoy solitude, walking in the bush, chores around the house etc. and believes that prepared him for hours alone in an artist’s studio.
He grew to appreciate the “stillness” in painting and photos that allowed close observation of content and variation. He strives to create work of relevance to the 21st century by grappling with context and the impact of images. Photos of family and small towns were images of interest to him originally.
He was obviously interested in drawing and went on to university to explore engineering and drafting, but found that did not appeal. He went on to study psychology, history, cinema and a range of other subjects in a quest for learning and understanding.
He realized art can give you information in many fields at once and became a keen observer of classic art and images in general. He realized art comprises of contrasts and dynamics like music and like music brings colour and difference to all.
He came to appreciate colour harmony and mentioned Matisse, showing ‘The Conversation’ as an example of the use of colour, which he came to love, mentioning that viewing it in The Prado (on loan from The Hermitage) when young was a revelation. The real size of it and the trueness of the colours made him realize other images of it; photos, internet, and reproductions inspired different thoughts.
He recommended the writings of Walter Benjamin on the differences between originals and reproductions noting that there is more information about the artist on the surface of a real painting. Jesse added that a painting has a particular history and reflects something of our existence and connection with what we desire to paint.
Photos are a use of memory, time and space and this led him to his own experiences with photos, specific or found photos and to his “Windows” series.
He has worked with photos for some time, working on the narrative available in photos of Allende and others from 1971 to 73 from the coup in Chile coup and Abu Graibh prison photos. He also works with friend’s and family photographs.
He is currently working on painting works representing part of found photos. He strives to achieve belief in the images through technical accuracy by working with complicated grid images. Jesse showed us some of his recent work in progress, highlighting grid systems used to achieve the pattern of dresses in paintings and the phases of paint application which change and highlight characteristics of the picture.
Jesse generously answered questions on his painting philosophy and on technical aspects. He believes he is motivated predominantly by the human condition and psychology, but obviously from a young age has been aware of art and painting exploring much of his world through his painting.
Words by: Jane Battersby