Guest Blogger Gail Sachson owns Ask Me About Art, is Vice-Chair of the Cultural Affairs Commission and a member of the Public Art Committee. This April she will be teaching a course at the Meadows Museum at SMU, “From the Museum to Marketplace,” introducing artists and would-be artists to the gallery world.
“What were you thinking? Or eating? Or drinking?” asked the rapt and wide-eyed audience of Robert Jessup as he talked about his “creatures” now on exhibit at Conduit Gallery. The 24 pieces represent personal dreams, or some might say nightmares, that have been in Jessup’s head since a trip to Europe two years ago. They will be causing audiences to wince and wonder through March 21.
The names of these paintings say it all: Head Hand-Stand Creature, Animal Nose Torso Creature, Finger Creature Hat. Picture the beautifully painted creatures, small enough to be, perhaps, embraced. Most of the canvases are 12″ x 12″ or 20″ x 20″ – not even easel size. They could be set on your night table for a nightly last look – if you want to sabotage sleep.
Welcoming and abhorrent at the same time, the precious size of the oils makes them just that – precious. And almost cute enough to cuddle. Any larger and the creatures would be terrorizing. Actually, the largest painting in the show, Two Creatures on a Beach in Seattle, applauded by a Jessup collector in the audience, was the least appealing to me. It tells me too much of a narrative nature. I see the creatures as deformed cartoon characters, rather than the perplexing possibilities of another world.
Jessup says: “Very honestly, I don’t really know what these paintings mean. They are surprising to me, perhaps metaphors of the human condition … They are humorous and pathetic. A lot like life and what God would have made on a bad day.”