Jeffs installation My Spirit is like a splayed panoramic sugar Easter egg. It brings to bear qualities of what is pleasurable from childhood with the excesses and weight of life experience. By looking through a peephole at one end of the panoramic egg one can hide in a safe architecture. The light inside glows with a little world of ornate detail and pastel colors that appeal to a child, I think, because there is a sense of calm, order and manageable scale. For me as a child, drawing or making things with clay was the most immediate and wonderfully solid way to form an image or idea; the idea made real but also pretend-real - like a candy cigarette or necklace. This sensation of two qualities at once reminds me of my pre-mature exposure to Zap comics when I was eight.
The type of excess in R. Crumbs drawing was too expansive for me. The images were exaggerations of something palpable. I experienced being transported by things quite deeply as a child and they made an impression on me, like a mark or scar. And though I thought I hated them, later, when I saw the documentary Crumb, I felt an obscure familiarity with R Crumbs comics and circumstance and of the complex splicing together of childhood and adulthood.
My Spirit is heavily laden, weighted with details, plethora and order. It is hard to gauge the scale as the architecture goes from intimate to sublime and all its aspects are crocheted together as a whole. I imagine little inhumanities, relationships and joys are piled on this thing (blanket, doily, harness, shrine, albatross) and make up the pattern and detail in the forms of elephants and rabbits (symbols from childhood that appear benign but contain kinds of transposed Crumb experiences), and then unfurled as an event, a moment, which makes up the illusion of an architectural space, an 18th c. period room perhaps, that is both light and dense.
There is a Rineke Dijkstra video of a schoolgirl engrossed in drawing a Picasso painting. She is seated on the floor with her legs straight out in front of her. The microphone picks up the scratch of pencil as she steadily works a line, erases, fills in. Jeffs work reminds me of these elements, a seriousness of form (Picasso) with a kind of lack of self-consciousness (the schoolgirl).
Instead of a pointed dialogue with a specific tradition or artist, Jeffs work has all-over allusion, like all-over composition. And this feels specific to our time. Jeffs artwork inspires me to make due with what I have to come to, with the baggage of my life and the intensity of my propulsion. Obliquely, Jeff also seems familiar and his work reaches a sensitive, somewhat awkward and delicate spot. Jeff keeps making work that a lot of people stop making because they lack seriousness or they get too self-conscious. He gives us playful and fearless acts in serious forms.