With an expressive handling of paint, Jeremy Jaspers (b. 1977; Berlin, Germany) sets scenes ranging from solitary sensual acts to public confrontations with authority figures. The artist's work not only reflects such iconic topics as urban loneliness and queer self-image but more broadly the topic of human communication as it rapidly transforms the social fabric of the world.
Recalling the likes of Francis Bacon, Otto Dix, and George Grosz, Jaspers derives inspiration from urban landscapes, where strangers perpetually come into close contact with one other, yet almost always remain estranged. Drawing from the streets of Berlin and Paris, the artist oscillates between the dark, moody colors of urban concrete to the bright, vivid hues that linger from the tumultuous decade of the 1980s. This tension gets at the core of Jaspers' practice, which centers around the disjuncture felt in the streets of a modern city and similarly in the far recesses of the Internet. Jaspers paints urban ambience in the colors of nature; muted brown, gray, and green tones dominate, reminding us that the urban habitat has been wrested from nature. The artist's characters remain anonymous to his audience. They typify a universal figure, often reflecting a prominent sense of authority. In this way, Jaspers' paintings are not just pictures of modern men but rather pictures of today's civilization.
The artist's formal training in film and screenwriting resonates in his painting style, from the recurring depiction of a man dressed in the style of film noir, to the repeated appearance of phone and computer screens. In a broader sense, Jasper's prevalent use of screens embodies a palpable interaction between private and public; they play a role in making acts that once took place only behind closed doors visible to the world. The same tension manifests in the recurring presence of windows and doors in the artist's compositions, which serve not only as elegant framing devices, but also as portals offering an opportunity for escape, the arrival of an unexpected visitor, or a glimpse into a clandestine rendezvous. Through a sheer curtain, city alleyway, computer screen, or bedroom door, viewers are made voyeurs into the private lives of queer men who may doubt or hide, but ultimately hope for requited love and affection, and are free to express the full range of the emotions typically denied to men by patriarchal social imperatives. The varied responses elicited by such a privy position-elation, embarrassment, curiosity, aversion-are all to be found in the delicate social spaces Jaspers establishes in paint. The artist reexamines the repressive attitudes towards sexuality and queerness from eras past, tracing their development and persistence into the 21st century, along with the anxiety of alienation in the age of the Internet.
Jaspers has exhibited work at the Kunsthalle Spaeti, Berlin, Germany; Salon Strahl, Berlin, Germany; P8 3 Gallery, Gallery Weekend, Berlin; Metodo Milano, Milan, Italy; Cheim & Read, New York, NY; and Ales South Bohemian Gallery, Hluboká nad Vltavou, Czech Republic. The artist currently lives and works between Berlin, Germany and Paris, France.