A prolific artist working in and out of a variety of mediums, Derek Jackson hasn’t had a painting show since 2010, and the majority of those he’s had previously have been figurative. There’s telling information about “Skies” from that fact alone. This isn’t taking up the brush in a métier of painting tradition; Jackson’s art endeavors tend prioritize concept before medium. Witness the diaristic sound collage of post-punk band Hi Tiger, his sexed-up go-go dance event that infused the abstract environmental anonymity of 2011’s Sacred and Profane festival with a hot corporeal rush, and his taboo-busting painting show of bear portraits from Portland’s queer community. Similarly “Skies” sidesteps the formal and narrative qualities of genre painting in favor of a mutable and relentless examination of its subject; so as much as memory and gesture, these bittersweet paintings have a lot to do with transformation, faith, and even forgiveness. Jackson is one of the only artists in Portland using painting not only to re-imagine or convey a lived experience, but to transform its memory. And it might be entirely accidental that they sometimes bear an unsettling resemblance to the canonized, endlessly reproduced images of the Maine coastline, but the perversion is welcome.
“What Were the Skies Like” will remain up through year’s end, but this Friday, the project will be temporarily augmented by a live performance and installation, during which Jackson’s band Hi Tiger will perform inside a large, transparent structure built by conceptual artist Jan Piribeck, whose installation “Metadivers: World Beneath the Waves” explores sea change and the psychological effect of tidal phenomena.
“WHAT WERE THE SKIES LIKE WHEN YOU WERE YOUNG?” paintings by Derek Jackson | through Dec 31 | at Zero Station, 222 Anderson St, Portland