Jeff Page – Animated Geography
Through a series of short conversations and studio visits over the last year I watched Jeff Page develop a body of work which was recently exhibited at a two-person exhibition, Celestial Terrestrial, at Hinterland Art Space. Sabin Aell and Randy Rushton, who were recently awarded the coveted Westword 2012 MasterMind, paired the soft and incredibly rich figurative sculptural work of Elena Stonaker with Page’s animated geography.
Photo above: A Disparate Scene.
Page’s work in the exhibit was defined by a series of seven mixed media pieces ranging from the incredibly detailed to abstracted opaque landscapes of the body. The collage, A Disparate Scene is dominated by shifting perspectives and “body trees” (trees made from masculine limbs, arms and legs that cross over into another form). Page’s working method is defined by an overwhelmingly sense of material collapse. And yet -he manages to exist right on that edge, maintaining integrity by using an all over compositional structure combined with his love of glossy magazine pages that have been tightly cut or ripped.
Using tactics that explore the discrepancies of materials, Page’s undulating landscapes, as expressed in A Danger A Delight, are a sensual and textural experience. From a collection of slick, pristine designer advertising images the rocky surface of his abstracted landscapes are composed of scraped, ripped, cut edge bits of collage material intersecting with pooled watercolor, collected hair, grainy dirt, remnants of graphite drawing, and slabs of shiny watercolor that seem to sit on top of the dry paper.
During our series of conversations this year I quickly noticed the opposition of his stacks of glossy magazines and cut out images of hair and nature alongside a collection of hairs (human and coconut), dirt, and then these large pieces of rough paper rippled incongruously by pools of watercolor. Page’s work in graphic design field resides uneasily alongside his creative drive as an experimental artist. Page “reference(s) (this incongruous) place in life through materials, process, and concept.”
He noted during my last studio visit that he had increasing become obsessed with “the disappearance of edges and blending of those things that don’t belong together, insisting on finding the link between not only the two media but the conceptual element as well”. He seemed insistent on finding or discovering his ability to anthropomorphize the body from nature.
Even if this work starts in a most personal way, he’s used abstraction to create room for the viewer. One enters in to his anthropomorphized world of pooled color, brushy abstracted trees, and dirty ground strewn with remnants of graphite mark making and imagines this as a new place, murky and primordial, perhaps before or after time.
In some of the pieces, such as Disparate Scene 1, he’s employed traditional perspective and incredibly detailed landscape elements but not to give his viewers a sense of reality. Similar to a psychedelic experience, these pieces open the possibilities of self and nature morphing from one state to another, whether it arises from land to body or beast rising up from the dirty craters of dust.
His need to merge self and nature, merging medias that are inherently opposed seems to completely integrate his life with art making. His employment of collage is a certain kind of instinctual elegant morphing of unnatural cultural ideas of polish with the naturally pristine. In its most insistent form his escapade into nature is a self-reflection on his own unspoiled and beautiful edges meeting at the most wild and uncontrollable space man can find and yet his coming out of this whole and fine.
Coming off this strong body of work Page is now working on a site-specific installation piece, Raise / Raze, that is inspired by his collage piece, Radical Refuge. Curated by Shannon Corrigan, this new body of work is set to open August 2, 2012) at Emmanuel Gallery.
Jeff Page was born in Denver, Colorado in 1978 and raised by an accountant and an artist. He received his BFA in Interdisciplinary Studies at the San Francisco Art in 2003. Exhibiting rigorously during his Redline artist residency from 2008-10 and has served the Denver arts community through is engagement as a Board Member and member of the Artist Committee for the prominent PlatteForum Creative Residency program in Denver, CO. Most recently he was part of the Denver Art Museum, Design Council, Design after Dark exhibition.
NOTE: This article was edited on June 13 at 8:12 am. The second paragraph was corrected for grammatical error and the link to the artist’s website was hyperlinked to his name.