Jason Redwood creates transmogrophic kalleidoscopic explosions of pop culture saturated lucid dreams. With a background in illustration and design, many of his images embody a vibrant, hard-edge pop aesthetic that could almost be digitally generated. In fact- Redwood sites the visual vernacular of advertising, web, television, billboards–the current day image glut–as being woven into his insane tapestries. Childhood memories, strange visions, and humor also play off each other in hypersectra, hypersaturated colors, into a “beautifully perverse mega-meal,” as Redwood describes them. His works are visual feasts of fancy, intensely seductive eye-candy that, if they were allowed to flash and vibrate on a moving screen, would probably induce seizures–but in a transcendant, ecstatic way.
Can you talk a little bit about your artistic inspiration—whether visual, ideological, spiritual, musical…some if the ideas you are exploring within your work?
The underlying idea in most all the work is about culture. The loss of culture and tradition, or diffusion and metamorphosing of cultures. It seems to be that cultures are devolving and evolving into beautifully perverse mega meals. Cultures are designed, packaged, and sold every night over the web, television, radio, runways, and billboards.
I’m interested in exploring the, “Who, what, where, when, and why or why not?”, in the change of cultures and pop culture. I’m fascinated by all the possible ways the media bullshits us. As well as the possible long lasting effects that it will have upon humanity. Maybe watching Baraka and the Idiocracy back to back would kind of sum it up.
That’s not necessarily to say that the only point of my pieces are the changes in culture. More and more inspirations bound out of the piece at me as time goes on. Child-hood memories are always abstracted into the work along with things a stranger might say when passing by in a coffee shop or a sickening event on the news. Sometimes even a nice conversation with a good friend can help me bring closure to a piece.
Nature plays another part in my inspiration for me. The colors and patterns repeated through out nature are awesome. The different cycles in nature and how the cycles effect the world and specific environments are also inspirational. The ability of animals and plants, or whole ecosystems, to adapt to changes, influences and amazes me.
Where do you derive your imagery from? Do you use source materials, or is it predominantly culled from your imagination?
Imagination and source materials play off each other, although the source material is almost never a carbon copy. I enjoy pulling imagery from newspapers, fashion magazines, old encyclopedias, car manuals, etc. and temporarily collaging these images together on my studio wall. Flipping the images upside down makes interesting things happen. I also will paint on the collages to obscure the images. Another big source for me is music, I like to imagine the shape and color of songs.
Many of your paintings include the use of hyper-bright, hyper-spectra colors—it looks like in your studio you have tons of bottles of pigments. Can you talk about the role of color in your works, palette and what your process is as far as organizing and figuring out the color?
Those bottles are cell vinyl. About a year ago I went into an art store and noticed they were having a close out sale on tons of supplies. What caught my eye though was the box filled with around 150 bottles of cell vinyl. The bottles were a dollar a piece so I bought the entire box. I like cell vinyl because the colors are so rich and dry to a mat finish. I like to think of all the colors in their simple gray scale value. A lot of the times I will pick colors based on how their values contrast with the neighboring colors. From there I try and work from back and forth from a harmonious palette to an unsettled or aggravated palette.
Can you talk about how your work is created, your process?
I usually start with experimenting using various mediums on canvas, paper, or panel. Building up a nice variation in color, value, pattern, and texture before I start adding any specific imagery. This process helps to give the piece depth and more time for me to work things out. I try and look at all the beginning stages as if the colors and patterns are a drop down menu from Photoshop. The preliminary work usually get pushed and pulled into a fill for a shape or structure by the end of a piece. The background could end up being part of the foreground by the end of a painting. I also keep from feeling invested in anything I do up until I finish a piece. What I mean is, if I have spent 3 days creating a pattern or fill for a specific area, I don’t consider that area to so precious as to keep me from covering it or sanding away at it.
Can you elaborate on the materials you use? I notice some include “faux jewels and holograms”?
In school, after all the foundation classes, I became enthralled with working with as many mediums as possible before I left. While there I got into using everything from acrylic, oil, water color, resins, encaustic wax, pastels, colored pencil, flocking, paper and wood. Experimenting with mixing mediums was something I always practiced. Even if the mediums weren’t meant to work together, great effects can be seen between the interactions. I would try and emulate those effects with mediums that weren’t fugitive. Now I keep to mediums in the plastic family. I acquire different elements to add into my work from factories I work with for my day job, various second hand stores, and a place called Random in Santa Barbara. The non-traditional painting materials I use in my 2 dimensional work were first bought with intentions for using in a sculpture that I started. Due to my studio size and ventilation I opted to hold off on finishing the sculpture. The head of the sculpture is almost done though.
I love your titles- what does “Clordyceps” mean?
“Clordyceps” is actually a mix between the words “cordycep” and “Clorox”. Cordyceps are a parasitic fungus that alters certain insects. Each Cordycep fungi has a specific insect that it attacks. The fungus infiltrates the body and mind of the insect, eventually killing the insect in the process of the fungi’s reproduction. The fungi’s life helps create balance in the environment. Some Cordyceps are used in Eastern medicines as a “wonder drug”. And Clorox is just the bleach. Here’s a link about clordyceps
Many of your images embody a certain vibrant, pop aesthetic that would lend itself to design, hard-edge imagery. I noticed you went to Art Center for Illustration—also on your site you mention that “advertisements, graphic design, fashion signage…” are woven into your visual vernacular. Can you talk about how your background in design & illustration, as well as your love for this specific set of imagery manifests itself in your work?
My first graphic design job was at a mom and pop silkscreen shop, about 10 years ago. Everything we did was in vector format for the screens we used. Vector art is interesting because it can be increased and decreased in size so drastically with out losing details. I think about the hard edges of vector art when I paint by hand. Also the layering used in silk-screening comes into play. These past two years I have also been examining and referencing computer generated filters, from Photoshop and Illustrator, to use in my pieces. I think just being an observer by nature advertisements, fashion, signage and everything else forces itself onto me. I can’t help but see all these things around me, especially being in LA with all the digital billboards glowing and flashing at night on my commute. At work with all the fashion magazines, style boards, the ridiculous tradeshows.
A lot of your work has a very visceral quality- from the wispy, feathery type stylizations, to squirting liquids, and the patterns—what do you make of the tactile nature of your works?
I might associate that with my intuition when creating things.
Who are some of your favorite artists working today and why?
Peter Saul for his color and social commentary. Daniel Richter is great for the quality and texture of his work among other things, his color combonations are vibrant and frightening at the same time. Trenton Doyle Hancock for his use and balance between color and black and white as well as his imagination. Kerry James Marshall for his technique and social identity and commentary in his work. Cai Guo-Qiang creates beautiful art with very untraditional mediums. He works with black powder. Tim Hawkins is genius. He creates art from what most people would throw away. Jonathan Meese is a mad man. I would like to live in one of his paintings for a week. Tom Knechtel for his ability to marriage so many different elements. His drawings are awesome as well. Lari Pittman for his unique color harmonies and the layering involved.
If you could create any project, regardless of cost or scale, what would you create?
As mentioned before, I started working on a sculpture that would be more of a mobile installation about identity, disease and diffusion of pop culture. The piece would consist of resin, epoxy, tar, feathers, cement, fabrics, and paint. The rest is secret.
What paintings are you currently working on, or any other upcoming projects?
Yesterday, while cleaning up my studio, I came across a bunch of older pieces on paper from over a year ago. I’m going to work back into these pieces to see what comes it. One of the pieces on paper is almost 8 feet wide. I never felt that this piece was finished, so I’m excited to get back into it. I also started on a piece that’s approximately 5′x5′ for a possible group show in the next few months, and there are various small works on paper always in progress. I’m also going to start to retrofit my truck for the apocolypse of 2012 or if I lose my job like so many other people, which ever comes first. I have been thinking about driving to Canada lately.