Jesse Reno is a self-taught American painter and muralist, whose art is based on his interest in native and primitive societies. Reno himself terms his art as neo-primitivism. Jesse Reno was born in Teaneck, New Jersey in 1974. He was born with an extreme fever, which caused severe damage to his optic nerve. Because of this, Reno spent almost his entire first year in a hospital, where doctors were trying to examine and evaluate all of the damages caused by the high temperature. As it turns out, fever affected blindspots in over half the visual field of his right eye and left him with a lazy eye and bad vision. All of these damages, as well as the chronic pain caused by the problems, affected his perception as a painter and an artist but hasn’t stopped him from drawing since he could hold a pencil. His damaged vision causes strange distortions in depth perception, forcing him to always stay close to his works while painting. In addition, artist’s vision is sensitive to both light and color, caused by a high level of contrast. Jesse Reno’s different vision greatly shaped his art, both in a color pallet and in terms of depth within his paintings, murals and commissioned works.
Complexity, Chaos, and Creativity
While creating art, Jesse Reno attempts to separate himself from thoughts and conscious ideas, in order to follow them only through his actions and movement. He typically works on 5 to 10 canvases at once, jumping between them, and in that way keeps himself from getting attached to one idea and allowing a thematic appearance to occur. Only in the final stages, he tends to make sense of the given imagery, by adding final touches which will contribute to an understanding of its meaning. The main intention of Reno’s art is, for him, to give a sense of natural order while approaching painting with a random idea. His art conveys an inner struggle for expression, introspection, and visualization. As in primitive cultures, Jesse’s creations remain pure as if they are his visual diaries open for interpretation, devoid of any predetermined ideas, technical process or pre-established art forms. The materials Reno uses include acrylic paint, oil pastels, and colored pencils, which he applies on surfaces like wood panel and canvas. With each new layer of paint, he comes closer to his personal purpose and truth.
The main intention of Reno’s art is, for him, to give a sense of natural order while approaching painting with a random idea
Symbols and Beings
Jesse Reno’s art is characterized by symbolism, seeping with elements of mythology and archetypes. Through seemingly random shapes, colors, and markings, Jesse features anthropomorphic figures with human features and physiques. These shamanic beings, Totem animals, and Native American figures struggle to find their place in a world simultaneously on the verge of expanding and collapsing. Combined with features of animals such as snakes, birds, and deer, author’s creatures are created to depict and explore the increasing disconnection between humanity and nature. The artist created his own symbology, with elements that carry meaning and interpretation, just like a legend of a map. His visual language incorporates symbols such as circle, square, line, X, crown, and stars. Understanding of Jesse Reno’s visual symbols opens a dialogue where images truly are worth a thousand words.
Author’s creatures are created to depict and explore the increasing disconnection between humanity and nature
Jesse Reno’s Public Studio, Exhibitions and Commissioned Works
Highly creative, Jesse Reno has created over 3000 paintings and drawings over a period of 15 years. He has been exhibiting his works since 2000, in various venues across the United States, Canada, France, Mexico, and many others. Reno’s work has been featured in numerous publications such as Juxtapoz, Artnews, Artension, among others. In addition to painting, Jesse Reno also produces murals and commissioned works – such as paintings on guitars, surfboards, skis. As one of Portland’s resident artists, Jesse’s painted walls can be found around the town, as well as in other cities. One of his largest works can be seen in Winnipeg, Canada. Commissioned by the Province of Manitoba, Jesse Reno created a large-scale mural as a reminder of the cultural importance of the Native American people in the region. In 2014, Jesse Reno has moved into a public studio. The studio is open every day for the public to stop in and see over 300 paintings and works that are still in progress. It allows the viewers to truly experience Jesse Reno’s art and his creative process. Under the name True Measure Gallery, the studio is located on Burnside Street, in Portland, Oregon.
Jesse Reno lives and works in his studio in Portland, Oregon.
Featured image: Jesse Reno – Portrait – Photo via yellowdoorartmarket.com
All other images copyright of the artist; All images used for illustrative purposes only