Framed mirror and acrylic on wall
27 x 35 cm
Oil and enamel on board
30 x 24 cm
2013, Oil and enamel on board, 24 x 30 cm
2014, Oil on linen mounted on board, 122 x 185 cm
2014, Oil on canvas, 100 x 160 cm
2014, Oil on board, 42 x 53,5 cm
2014, Enamel and oil on board, 80 x 54.5 cm
2014, Oil on board and glass, 25.4 x 33.5 cm
2014, Oil on canvas and door, 83.5 x 177 cm
2014, Oil on notebook collage mounted on linen, 80 x 110 cm
2013, Oil and enamel on canvas, 142 x 178 cm
2014, Oil and enamel on board, 25 x 30 cm (each one)
2014 Exhibition at Boccanera Gallery (Trento, Italy)
The American artist Walker Keith Jernigan has been selected for a residence at Boccanera Gallery in Trento. The site specific project developed by Jernigan is a research – pictorial and processual – about the memory’s elements, about the implications of the construction of a personal history. The artist has realized a series of portraits on different supports, objects and an installation linked to his family’s history. The work, achieved during the residence, will be show in the exhibition that will open on the 24th of May in the gallery’s space.
Memory is selective. It omits, make choices, reconstructs in the course of time. Or it can be said (almost at the opposite) that memory holds situations and experience’s fragments. Walker Keith Jernigan has worked on the time of memory, on his family’s history; the one directly known and the one heard from words and documented by images. In the condensed time spent in the residence at Boccanera Gallery, the artist lets many of the protagonists of this narration appear and be unexpected illuminations in a dark nocturnal blue sky. The portraits constitute a constellation, they organize themselves in the gallery’s space, they draw trajectories, nuclei that reunite figures (parents and sons) that cross themselves with others (uncles, grandmother, girlfriend) weaving relationships not easy to untangle in visitors’ eyes but clear for the artist that put us in a cross reference’s play and bonds of which we become part. The gallery’s space will be transformed: blue walls will receive the paintings that, as points of light, will interrupt the faint space of memory. A space from which the artist lets fragments emerge. For this project, the artist transposes photographic images in pictorial objects. The starting image of the family album is translated in painting through an observation and symbolic rewriting process. The artist doesn’t reproduce the photographic image by projecting it over the canvas but rather he uses the pictorial construction as a device that represents an image closer to the truth included in the memory through its signs and its traces. Painting in these works, at the same time, tells about a conversation about itself, about the condition of being a complex tool capable of a very strong universal ability of communication.
The space of the gallery becomes an organic system that holds together every single piece and puts the visitors in another history, another mind, another dimension, not as a contemplative spectators but as participating actors. The artist realized pictorial objects, closed books, realized with pieces of wood, where the family names appear; canvases and supports of different dimensions that underline both presence and intimacy in bringing to light the fragments of memory; and a more installation section in which a door (that physically contains two paintings, a love dialogue) is put in relation with a fracture in the floor, an excavated space that forms a river, a liquid indistinct place. All this elements are part of the processual and pictorial work that Walker Keith Jernigan has realized during the residence and that are offered to the visitors as a mysterious combination full of references in which each one of us can find internal echos and correspondence.
Midnight Blue by Daria Filardo
Memory leaves out, erases, selects, lets things happen on the surface. Memory reconstructs and defines founding relations. We cannot remember everything and we cannot forget everything: we are continuously re-writing memories and giving them a new position in the space of our experience. It is precisely places in the space that are occupied by the features of the family history of Walker Keith Jernigan. The artist imagines an indistinct abyss, a blue space, a color that swallows up, from where, as sudden light, the family figures emerge. All the space of the gallery has been transformed; entering here we enter his world. The title of the project Reflectors: filling the void underlines two aspects of the artist’s process. The painted portraits are like reflectors that illuminate and fill the void, the space between the re-elaboration of a memory and another. The void is in itself color, blue. Everything is painting, painting expanded in space. Walker Keith Jernigan selected some photographs, old and new images of a first hand lived history and one just heard through other people’s words. A long process of elaboration got to the realization of eight portraits and two self portraits (the only ones painted from real life). The chosen photographs served as re-activators of memories, as initiators of an observational process which brought to a new composition loaded with signs, embedded with transformations and sedimentation. Painting narrates a deeper truth than the photographic record. The construction created by the artist is a personal constellation where the pictorial practice is within the boarders of the support, becomes object, exceeds in colorful sculpture (two books made of wood and canvas) and in installation (a door that contains two canvases which dialogues with a form/fracture in the pavement of the space). The family unit (mother, father, sister) are repeated subjects and each one of them set up in new personal iconographies. The dimensions of the paintings – from little to big, form accurate to quick gesture – underline presence and intimacy at the same time. The mother is one of the first treated subjects, represented in a black and white portrait as a young woman. The artist does not transfers the photograph into painting by projecting the image on the support (in this case a wood panel); he observes and paints and lets the signs of paint to be full of meaning. For Walker Keith Jernigan painting re-writes, adds. The portrait bears signs which were not present in the original photo like the white line in the middle of the image, as if the photograph was bent and other marks which are the result of the meticulous sedimentation of painting. The passage from photography to painting shows clearly that the artist’s attention is dedicated exclusively to the painting medium itself and this is investigated in its deep essence as a relational tension between the artist, the treated subject and the viewer, who - even if looking at an autobiographical subject - finds empathy and resonance. The mother is also in another canvas, a scene of joy in color, taken from her marriage. In the scene father and mother closely framed, laugh. The image presents pictorial signs that exceed from the figurative nature and insist over the representation of the white boarder of the photograph. Like in all of the artist’s works painting talks about itself, about its nature of being a language, a device. The father is a subject the artist has treated multiple times, a founding bond that needs constant transformation. A big black and white portrait constructed by several passport photos, represents the subject through different variations. Underneath the figures we can glimpse a collage, drawings and writings on the overall project. The features of the father experience changes which lead to his disappearance. The little variations create like a music score which plays on the differences and proposes to the viewer an extended time of observation, an immersion into a relation marked with transformations. The father is co-protagonist with two friends of another scene. A big canvas represents three entire figures referees of football game. A yellow heart is sprayed on one of the faces. Like before, the figurative sign is interrupted, mucked up, exceeding on the margin of the image. Part of the figures’ construction slip out of in a place where it is sign before recognized subject. The sister presents maybe the most explicit signs of painting as a language. The image of the face, in color, is interrupted, as the photo had been cut in half. There is a caesura in the image which introduces us into abstraction and dripping, into color in itself that becomes form: any possible form. Two big works represent more distant family relations. The grandmother as a child appears in a big canvas, sepia toned. She looks suspended in a far away past. The dark tones contrast with the white dress which is like a frozen form. The borders of the image represent weathered signs of the board of the photograph. These stains are zones at the margin of the canvas and show the artist treats all surface as a field of representation. On the last big wood panel, on a part of which is glued a big piece of canvas, appears, in a quick sketched stroke, two figures, one of which is the great grandfather. The big panel leans on two piles of white painted wood books. The painting gesture passes from the canvas to the wood panel defining a continuous action field. Big brush strokes and small details suggest a faded memory which survives almost only in the middle name of the artist. All these fragments and many others could be contained inside two objects, two wood and canvas family books, closed, consumed and weathered. These books, a red one and a blue one, have the name of the artists in gold Gothic characters. The name is divided in two, (first/middle and last) alluding at the two parts of the family the mother one and the father one. The volumes cannot be opened and seem to shield all the images that could come out and remained trapped inside. The artist himself is natural part of this complex construction of family relations which emerges from the blue walls in the last two works of the show. In a separate room from the principal space there is an installation, an old door with two nestled small canvases. Two body fragments, a love dialogue between a man and a woman. The painting of the woman comes from a photograph and is highly detailed, the one of the man is more rough and from real life. On the pavement below the door a form/fracture forms a river. The excavated space is an undefined and jagged form filled with water. Inside the wall, recessed is the last self portrait the artist realized in the time he spent working on this project (a month residency). As the fragment of his body inside the door, the artist is the only subject which was not photography before becoming painting. The face stares at us, frontal, in a little isolated niche, which is at the same time a passage way central in the construction of the all show.