Q&A with painter Jeremy Shockley
All photos courtesy of Laura June Kirsch
On Feb. 25, Los Angeles-based painter Jeremy Shockley opened his first solo New York City show Well, Look At That at The Hole Tribeca. Naturally, we were there!
The opening night was a huge success, despite the frigid temperatures the show was packed out and the paintings did not disappoint. Viewers are met with large-scale surreal and meta works based on nature scenes.
As a long-time fan of his work (and The Hole), I was very excited to attend the show and ask some questions about Jeremy’s current show. It will be on view through April 29 at The Hole—don’t miss it!
LJK: Let’s talk about the smiley face paintings. The smiley face is of course an iconic image and I love your take on it and the perceived texture in the work. Can you tell us what inspired you to start incorporating it into your work?
Jeremy: First, I just really love smiley faces and painting trompe l’oeil rips. It was also during a time when everyone was painting/wanting figurative paintings, but I just wanted to paint skies. It was my way of giving people something slightly figurative, to trick them into just looking at pretty skies.
LJK: We spoke briefly at the show and you mentioned this all coming together very quickly and that you produced all the work in a short period of time. What was that process like for you?
Jeremy: It was a mad dash. There was a 33-day stretch during which I painted 10 to 14 hours a day, every day. I wouldn’t mind longer, but I loved every second of it. I do have a weird clicking noise in m elbow right now though.
LJK: Did you have a concept already in mind you wanted to hash out?
Jeremy: I had some themes and imagery that I had in mind. I don’t do much planning in my painting though. I usually just do a quick sketch with vine charcoal on the canvas and then see what happens. I work on three or four paintings at the same time, to allow for drying in between phases. This usually lets me work out the cohesion of the show at the same time.
LJK: When I was first introduced to your work there were a lot of rainbows in your paintings. What was the significance of using the rainbow and can you tell us a bit about the evolution of your current style?
Jeremy: I really just love to paint rainbows, but they were also a way for me to figure out things with paint and movement on the canvas. I made them follow the contours of mountains and interact with the imagery of the paintings. I tried to make them a living, breathing, moving entity. My current style has just grown out of those paintings. Still exploring landscape, ocean and sky elements being moving entities.
LJK: Is this your first solo show in New York City?
Jeremy: It is! I’ve done some shows in Los Angeles and Copenhagen, but this is my first New York City show. It was even more magical than I expected.
LJK: When did you start painting?
Jeremy: I started drawing as far back as I can remember. I think the first time I really made anything with paint was a stage set prop for my elementary school when I was in fourth grade. They let me make a giant flat 10-foot pumpkin carriage and paint it all. I was pretty hooked.
LJK What’s your ultimate goal as an artist?
Jeremy: All I really want is to be able to continue to paint and share with folks. It’s a “the work is the reward” kind of situation for me.
LJK: What’s your best piece of advice for finding inspiration when stuck creatively?
Jeremy: Pick something you think you hate and do it. I didn’t like surrealism or painting skies for a long period of my life.
LJK: Which artists have influenced you?
Jeremy: Constable, Turner, Cecily Brown, Philip Guston, Hilma af Klint, de Chirico, Magritte, Tom Sachs, Chris Burden, Francis Bacon and all my friends currently slinging paint and making wonderful things.