Dan Jackson’s exhibition Manufactured features representational paintings spanning the multiple genres of still life, landscape, and portraiture. Maiza Hixson, the DCCA's Gretchen Hupfel Curator of Contemporary Art and Acting Associate Director for Programs, describes how Jackson's work references the austerity of 16th- and 17th-century Spanish still-life paintings, the romanticism of the Hudson River School, and the irony of Pop Art. Jackson applies masterful oil painting techniques to wry, grandiose portrayals of banal and ephemeral objects such as inflatable toys and junk food. Manufactured, the title of his exhibition, underscores ideas of artifice in relation to the artist’s studio as a site of creative production and the artwork itself as a painted illusion.
Hixson notes that in figurative works such as Nightwatch and On Patrol, for example, the paintings appear almost cinematic, reminiscent of a scene from a B movie. In Nightwatch (the title of which echoes Rembrandt's most famous work), we see what could be two apprehensive friends wandering in the dark with a beer and a flashlight, looking for a threat not visible to the viewer. Similarly, in On Patrol, a concerned suburban couple scours the neighborhood for a bogeyman. In both works, Jackson engages the viewer in a visual narrative that parodies the idea of art as a story or myth predicated on the viewer’s search for meaning.
A sense of make-believe also characterizes several of Jackson’s still-life and landscape paintings. Ice Cream Cones and Nocturne represent two of the artist’s playful juxtapositions of mass-produced objects in an arcadian setting. Hixson says time is one of the main themes in each of these works as the ice cream cones do not appear to be melting and the flashlights remain forever on. As we consider the plausibility of the scenes depicted in each work, we are quickly reminded of the absurdity of considering their realities in the first place. Ultimately, Jackson’s work queries our instinct to make sense of make-believe.
Born in Camden, South Carolina, Jackson currently lives and works in Claymont, DE. He received a BFA in Painting and Printmaking in 1993 from Virginia Commonwealth University and an MFA in Painting in 2011 from the University of Delaware. Jackson is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Delaware Division of the Arts Opportunity grant in 2014, a Joan Mitchell Foundation grant in 2011, and a Delaware Division of the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship in 2004. Jackson has mounted numerous solo exhibitions at galleries such as Dolby Chadwick in San Francisco, Klaudia Marr in Santa Fe, and the Handwerker Gallery in Ithaca, New York. His work has been featured in group exhibitions across the United States at venues including Towson University in Baltimore, Bakersfield Museum of Art in Bakersfield, CA, the Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover, DE, and the Cheltenham Center for the Arts in Cheltenham, PA.
Join Jackson and Hixson in conversation Thursday, November 13, at 12 noon in the DCCA Auditorium during the DCCA's weekly Art Salad lunchtime discussion. Jackson's exhibition will be on display through May 3, 2015.