Jeff Gillette in front of his artwork, image via Arrested Motion

Jeff Gillette/ Jeff Gillette

United States 1959

Painting

www.copronason.com/gill

Jeff Gillette
Jeff Gillette
Male
United States
1959

Childhood idols and memories in the work of Jeff Gillette seems to represent the milestone of experimentation and articulation of the artist’s social and political standpoints. The staggering boldness and irony are the most important tools the artist uses to settle his almost black humor world view. The very message that Gillette is eager to send is embedded in the imaginative and playful process respectively on the edges of reality and illusion. The satirical narratives he produces suggest the high level of awareness of not purely political, rather of economic, social, geographical context.

The exhibition called Dismaland included new prints made in the privacy of the home gallery
Jeff Gillete – Disney Sign Destruct, 2015 – image via notbanksyforum.com

Disney Obsession

Jeff Gillette was born in 1959, in Detroit. As a child, at his home, he was exposed to the TV show The Wonderful World of Disney and adorned it. After facing the amusement park in the Orange County in 1978 he was extremely disappointed with the vanity of the sight and since then became somehow dazzled with the Disney iconography. The art school in Detroit was challenging, yet Gillette decided to join Peace Corps in Nepal. During that time the artist was faced with nearby Calcutta’s shantytowns in his spare time. The return to the homeland was marked by a move to Orange County in 1993 when a teaching position at Foothill High School in Tustin appeared where he still teaches art today. From 2012 onwards he traveled and visited numerous favelas, barrios, bastis and shantytowns, experienced urban blight and incorporated that into his works.

The opus rounded with wit and precise critique

In Inida Gillette was focused on working within the slums and insert Disneyland characters and the castle
Jeff Gillete – Ferris Wheel, 2015 – image via ebforum

Closer to Mickey

The enchantment with Disney came as a natural extension of Gillette’s initial interest in Pop Art. First, it was Mickey Mouse that draws the artist attention primarily because of his simple, yet likable and simple features. Still, steady school job provided him with enough time for further development of ideas. Since Mickey is an iconic figure and somehow embodies Disney spirit, it is no wonder that Gillette produced a number of paintings with him alone. Second best is Minnie Mouse and from time to time other characters like Donald Duck, Cinderella or even sporadically ones.

Apocalyptic scenes which are reality in some parts of the world

His dismal works depict slum settlements without any green sign and were shown in the gallery
Jeff Gillette – Dubai Landfill Mickey, 2015 – image via bgfa.us

Wasteland Aesthetics

Although, facing extreme poverty is always defeating and unpleasant experience, Gillette was fascinated with the poetical potency of seen sights. The sharpness of space, color, form, and texture, constitute some kind of strange visual spectacle. The vast garbage and filth landscapes seem to suggest existential urge as well as the astonishing possibility of human adaptation. Those initial impressions from the 80’s apparently had an immense effect on Gillette and kind of became attached to such an imagery, so those visits became frequent and led him forward into thinking his art.

Gillettes’s works are provocative and subversive

The slum aesthetics of landfill in India is a artist’s sing which made him famous
Jeff Gillette – Minnie Hiroshima 08, 2015 – image via bgfa.us

Staggering Images of Decay

Gillette came up with the finalization of his thoughts on the meaning of consumerism and a manipulative role of brands even in the case of children. By contrasting the imagery of wasteland settlements from Third world countries with Disney characters, Gillette is producing rather engaged and eerie comment on today’s society. In addition to that is an interesting aspect that the artist now lives and works in the shadow of nearby Disneyland in Anaheim, and his students frequent that fantasy realm. On the other hand, his thoughts are framed by both the Buddhist notion of life being suffering and the wisdom of German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer’s thinking that a way to end is both through aesthetic and artistic contemplation.

Harsh versions of Disney’s characters misfortunes

With Dismaland show Gillette established his new approach in the terms of preparing the prints
Jeff Gillette – Cinderella Carriage Crash, 2015 – image via bgfa.us

Backhand to Banksy

In 2015 Gillette was contacted by the Banksy’s manager via social networks. Namely, the world’s famous street artist asked for his several works to be sent due to large group exhibition that was preparing. It was a success and Gillette’s works were sold quickly. Afterward, the artist was called to participate in Banksy’s secretive installation that he was setting up in Weston-super-Mare, UK, three hours from London. Upon arrival, Gillette was perplexed that the whole concept was basically a copy of his 2010 exhibition Dismayland. The artist then decided to use imagery of Banksy’s theme park and insert it in his work.[1]

Authentic and unpretentious style

In his home he prepared the works fro the gallery and it was a good sign
Jeff Gillette – Banksy Minnie Nagasaki, 2016 – image via pickclick.com

Dedication To Satire

The continuum of Gillette’s art practice tells much about the effort of maintaining consistency in regards to his personal aesthetics. The use of rather classical painting technique, references to art history from realism to modernism and contemporary topics make his approach progressive and critically inclined. His paintings are strong metaphors of repressive mechanisms of almost every layer of today’s society.

Jeff Gillette lives and works in Orange County, California.

References:

  1. Holmes.K, (2016): Meet the ‘Slumscape’ Painter Who Inspired Banksy’s Dystopian Theme Park, The Creators Project, [Decembre 12, 2016]

Featured image: Jeff Gillette in front of his artwork, image via Arrested Motion
All other images for illustrative purposes only

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2016LA Art ShowGregorio Escalante Gallery Los Angeles, CAGroup
2016LA Art Show Works on Paper FairBert Green Fine Art Chicago, ILGroup
2016CollagesBert Green Fine Art Chicago, ILGroup
2015Banksy’s DismalandWeston Super Mare, UKGroup
2015Scope Art Fair with Copro Gallery Miami, FLGroup
2015Portal to the Future Gregorio Escalante Gallery Los Angeles, CAGroup
201412 x 12 x 12 White Walls Gallery San Francisco, CAGroup
2014Coaster ShowLaLuz de Jesus Gallery Hollywood, CAGroup
201410 x 10White Walls Gallery San Francisco, CAGroup
2014Artists 2013Art Cube Laguna Beach, CAGroup
2013Slum LandfillsCopro Gallery Santa Monica, CASolo
2013Jeff GilletteGallery 1988 Venice, CASolo
2012SlumscapesBert Green Fine Art, Chicago ILSolo
2012UntitledBert Green Fine Art, Chicago ILGroup
2012No JokeCoagula Curatorial, Chinatown, Los AngelesGroup
2012Juxtapoz 15th AnniversaryCoproNason Gallery, Santa Monica CAGroup
2012Colors 2012Artland, Mumbai, IndiaGroup
2011Cartoon PaintingsJames Gray Gallery, Santa MonicaSolo
2010Slums: Paintings and Drawings, Jeff GilletteBert Green Fine Art, Los Angeles CASolo
2010DismaylandCopro Gallery, Santa Monica CASolo
2010Atrophic RealityShow and Tell Gallery, Toronto CanadaGroup
2010Art ShackThe Laguna Art MuseumGroup
2010100 Artists See Satan (again)Grand Central Art Center, Santa Ana CAGroup
2008Jeff GilletteFallout Gallery, Las Vegas NVSolo
2008Desert InterventionsBert Green Fine Art, Los Angeles CASolo
2008BlightCoproNason Gallery, Santa Monica CASolo
2008The Good Samaritan ShowCoproNason Gallery, Santa Monica CAGroup
2008CouplesSanta Ana College Gallery, Santa Ana CAGroup
2008Alumni PaintersCalifornia State University, FullertonGroup
2008High Fructose MagazineShow CoproNason Gallery, Santa Monica CAGroup
2008Post Petroleum Show Reno University Gallery, NVGroup
2008The Juxtapoz SchoolLaguna Art MuseumGroup
2008American LifescapesDBA 256 Gallery, Pomona CAGroup
2007CoproNason Gallery 15th AnniversaryGroup
2006Funny StuffThe Grand Central ArtCenter, Santa Ana CA OctSolo
2006New SlumscapesBert Green Fine Art, Los Angeles CASolo
2006Banksy (Guerilla participant)Los AngelesGroup
2006Suburban EscapThe San Jose Museum of ArtGroup
2006Canvas?Jack Flynn Gallery, Costa Mesa CAGroup
2004Alas Vegas Art Hysterical, DiRT Gallery, West Hollywood CASolo
2004The OsCeneThe Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach CAGroup
2004100 Artists See SatanGrand Central Art Center, Santa Ana CAGroup
2004Uncharted TerrainSOKA University of America, Aliso Viejo CAGroup
2003SlumsCopro, Nason Gallery, Culver City CASolo
2002Juxtapoz ShowTrack 16 Gallery, Santa Monica CAGroup
2000Slumscapes - Blasphemy BlowoutDiRT Gallery, West HollywoodSolo
1999An Organic Necessity (Black Light Atom Bomb Paintings)The Caged Chameleon Gallery, Santa AnaSolo
1997I’ve Accepted Jesus Christ as My Personal Savior - But I Still Feel Crappy Broadway Gallery, Santa AnaSolo