The Company is pleased to announce Glad Day, Jay Stuckey’s first solo show at the gallery, running from September 3 thru October 1. An opening reception will take place Saturday September 17 from 6-8pm. A selection of large-scale paintings will be presented at the gallery located at 955 Chung King Road in Chinatown.
Something occurred to me as I strolled through the Prado Museum’s impressive collection of Renaissance loot of Spanish monarchs – what is timeless and universal are the stories; the triumph of good over evil, the doomed yet thrilling path of lust and greed – immortalizing life’s stories and fated events. These artists fused biblical parables and Greco-Roman mythologies with the commissioning aristocrats of their time, making those stories continuously relevant.
Now it may seem anachronistic or bold to correlate a contemporary artist with the Old Masters, yet I am compelled to compare the use of painting as a storytelling device, and the power of the panel to suspend disbelief. Although the purpose and context of time differ dramatically – Stuckey’s paintings are intended to be humorous and approachable, not to instill the fear of god in the viewer. But they do involve worlds that are filled with binaries and tension of opposites, evoking dilemmas that continuously haunt us.
The subject matter in Stuckey’s paintings stem from personal visions and dreams. His day and night world literally collapse onto the canvas. Symbols and characters that reoccur in Stuckey’s dreams are duplicated on several canvases along side Trader Joe receipts, crossed out to-do lists, torn pages from calendars, and news clippings. The artist’s daily habits are laid out and presented as clear as his deepest darkest fears. We laugh at first, but then quickly recognize our own neurosis and connect with the vulnerability.
Stuckey begins with the traditional medium of oil paint on canvas and builds up each painting using paper, oil stick, gesso, and occasionally crayons. Upon first impression, the characters appear to be childish; gender is demarcated by simple circles for breasts, long or short hair, and (sometimes) scrawled penises. A blonde lady, a set of twins, a mailman, Adam & Eve, a masked thief with a knife, a brown hairy creature are all characters that appear over again. The visceral and iconic markings bring to mind painters such as DeBuffet, Basquiat, or Dunham. Stuckey pulls the viewer in with energy and sense of humor – and the titles make sure of this.
In the painting fuck you Fuck You FUCK YOU figures are shoved within the constraints of the canvas, all clawing at each other for a crimson object dangling above them from the hand of a lone, taunting figure. This single figure stands on top of a brown mound constructed from oil paint and newspaper clippings documenting recent flood images. The precarious mound has been built on destruction, much like greed and desire. Which begs the question, are we condemned to the same fate as the doomed figures in Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights?
Jay Stuckey graduated with a BFA from Brown University and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Originally from Washington D.C., he’s been living and working in Los Angeles since 1996.