Patrick Jacobs at Pierogi

Exhibition Dates: 18 October–29 November, 2020
Extended through 13 December

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With music accompaniment composed by John Zorn, “The Masque of the Red Death.”

A book published on the occasion of this exhibition is available, with essays and interviews by Bartholomew F. Bland, Jaime DeSimone, Silvia Romani, and Michael Schonhoff.



Press Release

Opening Sunday, October 18th. Noon–6pm, with the artist present

A book published on the occasion of this exhibition will be available, with essays and interviews by Bartholomew F. Bland, Jaime DeSimone, Silvia Romani, and Michael Schonhoff.

“In the non-Newtonian universe of disparate viscosities and fluid love, distinctions between body and place are readily emulsified. Branches and foliage, moist and glistening, transform into flesh and genitalia. I think of these imagined spaces as safe havens for the sexual Other, and even more broadly for an emancipated human spirit.” —Patrick Jacobs

We are thrilled to present a solo exhibition of recent work by Patrick Jacobs, including a room of Nocturne dioramas, bronze sculptures from his Les Fleurs du Mal series, and prints from three series: Pink Nightfall, Night Spirits, and Nocturnes. Each of these informs the others in exploring the idea of landscape as place, stand in for the human body, and object of desire. This will be Jacobs’ sixth solo exhibition at Pierogi, in addition to numerous off-site presentations. We will hold a day long opening Sunday, October 18th, from noon—6pm, to allow for distancing and observance of all CDC health guidelines.

“[The] mediums in Nocturnes reveal an ability to pivot and work across disciplines from…highly considered and realized lens-scapes to fluid, gestural viscosity prints and then grab-handed mud-stick sculptures transformed into bronzes. These carry the viewer across continuums of realism, permanence and viscidness.” (Michael Schonhoff)

Jacobs investigates space, scale, perception of reality and, increasingly, landscapes of desire, while working across media. Drawing inspiration from nature and ecology, historical landscape painting, and the supernatural, he sets up contexts with inherent internal contradictions. His small-scale dioramas—which he began developing twenty years ago—are observed through circular apertures, or windows, of curved glass embedded in the wall. Depicted in miniature, they are both a part of and in contrast to their meticulously constructed surroundings. “Through its thick, distorting lens, the eye has no point of reference, no real scale…” (Bartholomew Bland)

Jacobs began developing his Nocturnes diorama series three years ago, his first works culminating in an exhibition at the Kansas City Art Institute in late 2018. In the case of the Romantic landscape painters, the sublime created a feeling of awe at the vastness and incomprehensibility of nature and our relationship to it. In Jacobs’ room of Nocturnes, nature is going through some abnormal transformations. Viewed through bi-concave lenses, they’re vivid although disorienting. Two and three dimensions have become conflated and nature’s familiarity becomes harder to grasp, even alien. While the idealized background and surreal foreground are cohesively composed, they’re at odds with one another. Man’s oneness with a divine nature becomes murky, undermining the notion of the sublime.

“My own sexuality has been germane to my experience of the world, so how nature becomes a construct of our desire has been important to my work. I asked myself what such a place might look like, this landscape of desire. And how the body might become a place and conversely place an object—so, a landscape of figures and spirits, as well as of flesh and blood, of organs and genitals.” (Jacobs)

In some of the works, the human body is more directly addressed. In Pink Sickle Moon, for example, a stump with a large vulva sprouts fingerlike limbs in a pink lunar light. In Silver Moonlight, phalluses rise monument-like in far-flung vistas. However, cast in clear epoxy and painted with translucent layers of iridescent silver, it is the sky, which dominates the dissipating landscape. Like sex, art can be beautiful and repulsive at the same time creating a tension in the mind that is riveting.

The oblique angle of entry and twisted shape of the floor plan for the room of Nocturnes were designed as a way of separating the viewer from the outer world and reorienting them in a new, internal one. Inside this room you can view miniature dioramas of moonlit scenes embedded in the walls. Peering into each construction requires a physical engagement with the work. In a sense one travels from outside (from the outer gallery itself) inwards (into a room within a room) and outside again (into the nocturnal scenes depicted). From outside the room the raw back sides of the works are visible, demystifying the process.

Along with the dioramas will be a group of rough hewn bronze sculptures, Les Fleurs du Mal, referencing Baudelaire’s book of poems. The bronzes were cast from?mud and sticks, initially gathered from the forest floor in New Hampshire during Jacobs’ residency at the MacDowell Colony. Recalling human, botanical and animal forms, they’re whimsical and often times sexual. Arranged on plinths, stools and end tables, they form a kind of garden of fleurs du mal, made of earth and simultaneously emerging out of it. Although they’re bronze, the fidelity of the casts capture the finger and handprints, sagging blobs and broken sticks showing the immediacy of their creation. Dug up from the earth, they’re primitive, even scatological. “I wanted them to be heavy, dense and irreverent.” (Jacobs)

Also included will be three series of prints, each print a unique work. Pink Nightfall is a grouping of fifty-five unique two-color, multi-copper plate drypoints, aquatints, and mono prints. Nocturnes is a series of black and white unique copper plate etchings with drypoint. Night Spirits is a grouping of twenty unique viscosity prints.

Printmaking has become a crucial part of Nocturnes and Jacobs’ practice as an artist over the past seven years, working with master printer Dan Waller. They determined early on that they did not want to make editions, but unique images made in the moment and impossible to reproduce. “Gradually I developed symbolic imagery that became Pink Nightfall, recalling the body, flesh and blood as well as the flora and fauna of the night. But it was the viscosity printing…that opened up entirely new possibilities. This process involves wiping and rolling on several inks of differing viscosities onto an etched plate. The inks flow into the grooves, mixing and repelling in unpredictable ways. The viscosity prints depict darker themes often with bright colors and gestural strokes. They were consistent with the haphazard viscosity of the mud pieces. In turn, the dioramas themselves became more viscous, soupy, with biological material, sludge, mud, moss and fungi.

“The bronzes and prints are a counterpoint to the meticulousness of the room of Nocturnes. However, the different materials and processes provide an impetus for a more fluid and strange nature—a darkly illuminated garden, mysterious, even enticing and ultimately, I hope, liberating.” (Jacobs)

Composer, sound artist, musician and producer, John Zorn, has long been a supporter of Jacobs’ work. Zorn encouraged him in developing the Nocturnes and, as the KCAI exhibition was developing, he proposed doing a composition to accompany it. Focusing on the pipe organ he composed The Masque of the Red Death, from The Hermetic Organ.

Patrick Jacobs’ work has been included in numerous exhibitions including a solo, “Nocturnes,” at the Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, MO; and group exhibitions at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR; Amercian Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, NY; Hudson River Museum of Art, Yonkers, NY; Shirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, Germany; Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France; The Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI; Museum of Art and History, Santa Cruz, CA; Centro di Cultura Contemporanea Strozzina, Florence, Italy; and the Museum of Arts and Design, NY, NY. His works are included in the permanent collections of the Pérez Art Museum (Miami, FL), the Museum of Arts and Design (NY, NY), Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (Bentonville, AK), the Portland Museum of Art (Portland, ME), Colección SOLO (Madrid, Spain), and numerous significant private collections. He has received awards and residencies from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Kansas City Art Institute, the MacDowell Colony, New York Foundation for the Arts, and Bad Wiessee. He received an MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago and studied at the University of Klagenfurt, Austria.