Purple Art

[May 18 2016]

Jim Joe “Look Means Memorize” at the Hole, New York

“Look Means Memorize”, is Jim Joe’s latest exhibition and second solo show at The Hole. The artist presents a series of text paintings above a running commentary of handwriting analysis. The paintings explore morality in an increasingly isolating and destructive society. They have a logical absurdity, not exactly paradox but hovering between being profound and vacuous, like a collection of modern cliches.

The paintings play with contradiction, such as “Distance can create connection”, notions that lurk in our collective conscious, like “Assume it was left on purpose”, and provocations for destructive natures, including “Sleep helps addiction” and “Repeat your mistakes”.

Misconduct and economy are recurring themes. The statements “Stealing isn’t free”, “Prisoner of impulse” and “Always return to the scene of the crime” allude to an implicit villainy, a sense that we are all criminals in an “increasingly unaffordable” society where “water can kill you”.

The painting “Annonimity is sacrosanct” points to a desire for privacy which can only be achieved in a personal and isolated reality – the misspelling of ‘anonymity’ shows the distance between our cultural experience and what the artist declares as fact. The verbosity of the word ’sacrosanct’, given the much simpler language throughout the rest of the show, suggests that the value of privacy is frequently misunderstood in modern culture.

The handwriting analysis anchors the paintings within an specific personality, collapsing the universal statements into a single ego. They describe an unconventional, detail-oriented and depressed individual. There’s the immediate assumption that Jim Joe is male but maybe the artist is a woman, we don’t know.

The exhibition culminates with a canvas depicting a person with an umbrella in the rain. A silhouette caged by it’s environment. “Look Means Memorize” is a personality assessment of someone who isn’t there. Jim Joe’s calculated persona is not only a mask for the artist, it is an artifact of a society where delinquency and delusion are reasonable responses to the economic reality.

“Look Means Memorize” is on view until May 22 at The Hole, 312 Bowery, New York.

Text and Photo Elise Gallant

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