Jesse Mitchell reviews Jack Varnell’s art and find it reminiscent of “James Rosenquist, Raoul Hausmann and the conceptual art from the film Blade Runner.”
If one wonders if there is still an animal heart beating within this new electronic world of man, if anything primal or real still remains, one only has to seek out some of the art being creating by, for, with, or about the internet these days. It is nothing short of an ecstatic moment, an awakening to the monumental forces of raw self-expression still welling deep inside the human breast.
This is certainly the case with the work of Jack Varnell, an artist with a clever touch of irony, a wide pool of compassion and a definite understanding for things left vacant, derelict, items and persons used to much degradation and some negation of their whole. His work reminds me of James Rosenquist, Raoul Hausmann, and conceptual art from the film ’Blade Runner’. The colors are hard, stark and often brittle, reluctant at times but with a furious tenacity that finally bleeds through to a firm saturation. Lines and fragments of lines run seemingly random over faces and objects but the effect is appropriate and lends itself to the chaotic beauty of personal expression and observation.
With his Ancient Asiana series he explores familiar faces of the Far East but with a careful hand and a keen eye. In each picture, whether Kimono, Kazu or Blue-Jade (my personal favorites from the series), one sees a sullen but smirking reflection of the slow passing of time and a crumbling dharma, or rather the useless institutionalization of it. The blues and greens become whole water seas of doubt and complexities. The eyes washed out and the hands ineffectual, clutching a parasol and other articles of distraction, carry the viewer down old and windy paths that seem to lead nowhere…but with so much charm.
His pieces, Eiffel, Marseilles and Fogged in Fun are sublime. A kind of absinthe soaked travelogue with layers of storytelling. Razor sharp and vivid, I find myself believing in the world they briefly create, which is the strongest spell in mythology and mythology is the strongest spell in art. The pictures are filled with pock-marked moments where vagrants could hide mull over real or imagined broken bones and dreams with coats full of tales to tell.
I believe the strongest series is The Muses and Their Music. Witches Grade-Hemlock Lips and Norma Jean contain so much old fashioned sensuality, one can almost smell the cognac in the air, the flutter of celluloid tape, hear the hum of the projectors, the finger print smudges over the goose pimpled skin. But also among this rapid sexuality is a sadness, and maybe that is only natural given the subjects but none the less the effect is both coarse and stunning.
I found Jack Varnell’s work hypnotic, mythical and real, visceral and spiritual and all shades of everything in between. It comes up from the ground and it realizes in the air and it fills in thick around you and stays with you, blends with you and when you fade back from it, it fades back from you. It melds with the eye and grows on the skin. It is classic work. It is strong.
Jack’s work can be found in a number of online galleries for both viewing, and purchase.
emotionalorphan iPhoneArt gallery
emotionalorphan iPhoneArt gallery for limited gallery quality prints
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