Tuesday, April 12, 2011

John John Jesse | American Dreamer

John John Jesse (American, b. 1969)

John John Jesse is a Punk rocker and former Catholic schoolboy. His art reflects
the gravitation and trials of these two opposites. Born in New York city’s then crime ridden
and drug infested lower east side, Jesse first gained notoriety as the founding member
and bassist of the influential punk band, Nausea.

Having left school and home at the age of fifteen, equipped with no formal art training,
Jesse began making posters, flier art, and record sleeves for punk rock bands
while squatting in the Lower East Side.

Through Jesse’s paintings, we get glimpses into the punk rock scene and
his perspective of an oppressed youth’s lifestyle. He declares his works as his autobiography
narrated through images rather than with words. A true voice of his alienated generation,
Jesse gives us his view of the turmoil of youth with his portrayal of class war struggle
and street anarchy. He also delves into his past teenage destructive subculture lifestyle of
heroin addiction, alcoholism, love, heartbreak, crime, and eventual triumph.

Vivid color built up in translucent layers of graphite, ink and gouache,
along with the use of airbrush work, cause the subjects to jump off the wood panels.
Jesse’s work depicts portraits and surreal landscapes of young rebellious girls and boys,
elaborate dream-like narratives of demons and angst amidst inner and outer destructive natures,
and experimentation with sexual discoveries. Jesse’s subjects, mixed with his artistic technique,
build a unique imagery made up of beauty and defiance.

With obsessive detail and flair for originality, Jesse shows what innocence should be,
and what it tragically often becomes, portraying a conviction that speaks to generations.