Jeremy Szopinski has exhibited at many venues in the midwest and nationally including Holly Hunt, Woodward Gallery, TuckUnder Projects, Soo Visual Arts Center, Phipps Center for the Arts, Speedboat Gallery and the Duluth Art Institute. He has also worked as an adjunct faculty member at the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul, MN, as a senior letterpress printer at Studio On Fire in Minneapolis, and has painted murals. He graduated in 1998 from the College of Visual Arts, in Saint Paul, and completed his MFA in painting at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn in 2010.
My work explores and utilizes the idea of unresolved and unhinged spatial tensions. In the space of my paintings, areas of opaque impasto contrast areas of thin transparency and create intermittent motion, sometimes erratic, sometimes rhythmic. Simultaneously, irregular geometries suggest shifting figures and knotted, tangled forms. To achieve these effects, I often use squeegees and chunky brush marks as well as homemade brushes, wide enough to make marks that stretch across the whole canvas. Colors tend toward the high key and the grounds are extremely smooth, allowing for glowing, stained-glass tones when transparent colors are scraped and rubbed across the surface.
The Deluge series of paintings revolves around abstract imagery of an apocalyptic landscape. The mood is guided by the seemingly ubiquitous and devastating doomsday anxieties that face us today: climate change, contagion, terrorism, political unrest and other threats, both literal and metaphorical. Various compositional elements create disparity between the negative, overwhelming imagery of waves, drowning and tumbling, sludge and pollution, and the optimistic, hopeful visualizations of water, rebirth and an environment teeming with life. Through the tensions and images in Deluge, I explore and reflect on not only the literal floods that threaten the modern world, but also the existential floods: floods of information; floods of sorrow; floods of memories or fear.
The X series of paintings introduces abstracted, figurative elements into these landscapes. The compositions suggest body parts such as torsos, knees and arms and the marks mimic a body in motion, whether falling, walking or running. The colors in the paintings reference hues found in the pinks and reds of muscles and flesh, the blues and greens of blood and veins. Whereas Deluge confronts the exterior environment around us, X can be seen as presenting a more human element.
When I was in junior high school, I saw Ed Ruscha’s 1969 painting, Steel, at a family outing to the Walker Art Center. Steel was the first painting to lodge itself in my mind. I was fascinated by the jarring juxtapositions. It was a strange desert landscape or it was a night sky. The luminous liquid lettering said “steel” but looked more like nail polish or blood. With this in mind, one of the elements I added to the Deluge and X paintings is a highly rendered color gradient. This gradient functions as a strange counterpoint to the otherwise abstract gestural areas of the paintings. It suggests sky, water and metal and gives the paintings a deep sense of illusionistic space.
Recently, I began work on a new series of paintings entitled Monument (this series will continue throughout the fellowship year). The shapes of the paintings are triangles and trapezoids, reminiscent of the pyramids in Egypt or Mayan ruins in Central America. I am intrigued by a simplified, abstracted and elongated version of ancient ruins and tombs and Monument contains more architectural elements than my previous paintings. These elements take the form of lines that bisect the composition and form various gradient zones. I imagine these monuments as a sort of strange, alien artifact with unknown spiritual or practical purpose. Although they undoubtedly held great meaning to their ancient builders, time obscures even the loftiest of goals.