Claire Oliver Gallery

Jesse McCloskey | New World Nightmares

Jesse McCloskey | New World Nightmares

Thursday, January 6, 2011Saturday, February 12, 2011


New York, NY USA

Jesse McCloskey | New World Nightmares
January 6 - February 12
Opening Reception this Thursday January 6 from 6 - 8 p.m.

Jesse McCloskey is a New York based artist whose Massachusetts roots greatly influence his current studio practice. Gothic New England legends of his hometown’s now abandoned cemetery full of ghostly smallpox victims and accused witches haunt the artist’s subject matter. Figurative and expressive, full of myths, symbols and narrative, McCloskey’s strong line, bold color and use of formal elements hearkens back to the style of the early 20th-century German Expressionists and of American Abstract Expressionism, however his technique and approach are singular.

The Artist's work is certainly representational, yet he considers himself an abstract artist. He begins each work by making several large colorful abstract paintings which he then cuts into hundreds of exacting sculptural shapes. These small pieces of painted paper are then painstakingly applied to a stretched canvas, layer by layer, building up dimension, color, impact and design. The artist builds a form, loosening it and tightening it over and over until it feels right; the final work is representational, haunting and mysterious and can be twenty to thirty layers thick.

McCloskey is accomplished and fluid in the craft of painting but that is only the jumping off point in his works. Resembling a topographic map’s contour lines, the artist leaves passages he is happy with alone, and carefully adds his cut paper shapes to others, coaxing a precarious balance of the pastoral and the menacing. Occasionally the viewer is treated to a peek at the excavations in the paper: seven or eight layers down, we are allowed to see all the abandoned structures and designs exposed, reminding one of an unearthed ancient city. The works are characterized by intense color, narrative, direct exposure of the self, provocativeness and seductiveness as well as significant surface activity and texturalism.

The artist received a BFA from the Swain School of Design in Massachusetts and a MFA from Parsons School of Design in New York. His work has been written about in The New York Times, NY Arts magazine and Animal Magazine.