Collage + Hand-Painted Archival Pigment Print on 290gsm Moab Fine Art Paper
W635 × H432 (mm)
Edition of 25
Jeff Gillette's paintings examine the aesthetic structures and visual patterns of human settlement, specifically that of shantytown style slums in India and South America. To the artist, there is something ineffable behind the obviously chaotic and desperate appearance of these places — a universality of human spirit and a strange beauty which comes out of the necessity and raw honesty of the will to survive.
Despite the seriousness of his observations, Gillette sees ironic and amusing juxtapositions that occur when Disney, corporate logos, and pop icons from consumer culture shows up as building blocks of shanty settlement construction. His works reflect these ironies as well as add a playful dimension to art historical relationships.
"I am from the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan. In the late 1980s I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal for two years. During this two-year stint, I visited every major city in India, finding myself exploring the huge slums found there. On my return to home, I moved from the Mid-West to escape the snow to teach High School Art in Orange County, California. Since finishing my MFA at Cal State Fullerton, I have been exhibiting in galleries both at home and abroad.
My work is most often landscapes. A major portion of my output is paintings of slums of the developing world, where I often add an element of western cultural privilege (and oblivion) into settings of urban blight. Inspiration for what I call “Slumscapes” comes from first-hand experience travelling. Most often I return over and over to my favorite destination: India. In the vast poverty-stricken fringes of its vast megalopolises I trip out on how the economic disparities are obscenely extreme. I’ve been spending a lot of time in Mumbai slums: photographing, filming, creating Plein Aire paintings and creating interactive street art.
Besides depicting slums, my artwork portrays post-apocalyptic debris fields, landfills, and detritus-cluttered deserts. The Juxtaposition of Disney themes and beloved characters (i.e.: Mickey Mouse) with all these dystopias best conveys my personal views. Pondering contemporary social, political, economical and philosophical conundrums, I can’t help but feel absurdly helpless, pessimistic and humored about the future of Western Civilization…" - Jeff Gillette