“Live Free Die Hard”
In the back-house studio of his Venice home I met with artist and friend Jake Kean Mayman. This is where he took me deep down the rabbit hole of his striking oil paintings. Using realism as his weapon the paintings encourage immersion, but with small touches, keep the viewer grounded. Jake takes months to complete one of his pieces, jumping from piece to piece, even within the same session. The paintings are more than just the images, they are a unit of transfer.
Painting of Nina Khrushchev, wife of former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev
Relying heavily on historical material and imagery, Jake’s paintings give viewers a chance to reconsider the truth of events and written history. Guided by thoughts of apocalypse and admiration for the indiscriminate colors of an atomic mushroom cloud, his works draw parallels from Cold War anxieties. His pieces are never truly finished until they are pried from his studio. Straying away from exact replication he disregards photorealism as a time consuming replacement for a photograph.
Ohne Titel (Arcs)
With patient shadow work the painted tape he adorns to his pieces appears as if it is peeling off the canvas. This magnificent inclusion stems from Jakes studio practice. Because he works on several pieces at a time, he leaves tape as a reminder to come back to a specific spot as a correction in a painting, but as months can go by without working on particular piece, the tape will begin to fall off. After returning to that spot, Jake experiences an absences and becomes comfortable where the tape once was and will paint the strip of tape back into the painting . The masterful tape illusions act not only as a quasi-signature for Jake but also makes a leap to anchor the paintings in the physical world. They reach off the canvas and remind the viewer that these are truly representations, allowing the image to stay under his full control.
Painting of Kay Griggs
The tape at the bottom of his Kay Griggs piece is to replace the YouTube progress bar from the still of the video that he used as reference. In the video Griggs, the ex-wife of a US Marine Colonel, exposes her ex-husband’s heinous actions while serving in the military. She makes claims of murders, sexual misconduct, corruption, and brainwashing in her powerful four part, seven and a half hour interview. The video series is perhaps the perfect analogy for Jake’s work. A heartfelt plea to expose truth. It is thought out, obsessive, and at times haunting.The genuine emotion he found in this video comes through in his painted works.
“Reinaldo Arenas Teen Dream”
Jake’s work captures the fear of Americans and personally releases it through his paintings. By meticulously painting these fears Jake is able to leverage a type of control over them. He becomes their master. This may be the reason why he has trouble declaring his work as complete. Once they are released into the world they can begin to exist without him, outside of his domain. He often questions if his paintings make the world a better place, with the hopes that they do. Getting people intrigued by the stories behind his paintings allow the questioning of truth. What else should crumble under this weight of awareness? From Jake’s paintings I hope we can learn from the past, adopt awareness, and push ourselves to engage in a better tomorrow.
By: MP Knowlton