Robert Jackson’s Tinkering with Reality is a disarmingly fun exhibit of contemporary pop-realist paintings whose everyday subject matter lends them an element of the absurd. More than anything, this exhibit reminded me of the paintings of Robert Deyber, but without the obvious visual puns attached.
Robert Jackson’s paintings offer tightly contained theaters of absurd impossibilities that speak to the very act of creating itself. Jackson’s regular cast of characters includes unbelievably tall stacks of pastries and hamburgers, anthropomorphized apples, Oreos and balloon animals, as well as colorful wooden crates whose graphic faces flatten the picture plane even as they enhance the painting’s ‘trompe l’oeil’ effects.
Jackson paints scenes that delight in their illusory spectacle as they navigate through painting’s loaded history. Jackson’s props lack traditional sophistication by designs – the silliness of a balloon dog or the artificial sweetness of an Oreo cookie lend a playful spirit to the philosophical conundrums that Jackson explores in his narrative-driven paintings.
Robert Jackson’s transfixing work makes it easy for the viewer to suspend their disbelief. But there’s an element of self-awareness in Jackson’s paintings that makes the viewer conscious of Jackson not trying to simply fool, but to make the viewer think about the process of being fooled.
Painted at human scale, Props looks like scene the viewer could walk into, pick up a burger and walk out of again. Jackson finds a way to cleverly imply his own presence in the work through the bitten red delicious apple on top of a Pop Kola crate, and the tiny green Fisher Price figurine on the stack of crates to the left.
I also really loved the way Jackson references other works of art within his paintings, such as the homage to Rodin’s The Thinker, above.
And of course you cannot talk about Balloon Dogs without thinking of Jeff Koons.
How many “Iconic” works can you identify in the painting above? Tinkering With Reality is one of my favorite current exhibits, and I recommend very enthusiastically that you check it out in person!
Robert C. Jackson’s Tinkering With Reality will be on Exhibit Through November 29th, 2015 at Gallery Henoch, Located at 555 West 25 Street, New York, NY 10001