Matthew Day Jackson’s latest series of still life paintings are a direct response to Jan Brueghel the Elder’s and Younger’s genre defining series of flower paintings from the 16th and 17th centuries, made during a time of Dutch colonial expansion and exploitation. For Jackson, the significance of these works lies in their simultaneously beguiling and prosaic qualities; they are both an exuberant expression of nature’s bounty and a visual manifestation of power and wealth. While the era was one of burgeoning scientific knowledge, Jackson signals the pitfalls of the ceaseless misuse and abuse of the natural world.
For ‘Bouquet of Flowers in a Vase’ (2018) Jackson took inspiration from a vibrant painting by Jan Brueghel the Younger, mirroring the latter’s choice of flowers, including tulips and irises, while also including the dragonfly found in the upper right corner of the original composition. Yet there is something uncanny about Jackson’s 21st century iteration. Made from and with a number of different materials and processes, Jackson’s series also explores issues around sustainability and technology, reoccurring themes in the artist’s oeuvre. Utilizing the conventions of still life and landscapes in combination with an idiosyncratic use of material and form, Jackson’s evocative works critique those traditions, their place in Western culture, and the ways they intersect with Western hegemony.
Matthew Day Jackson is an American artist whose multifaceted practice encompasses sculpture, painting, collage, photography, drawing, video, performance and installation. Born in Panorama City, California, in 1974 and currently living and working on the East Coast, his art grapples with big ideas such as the evolution of human thought, the fatal attraction of the frontier and the faith that man places in technological advancement. In particular, his work addresses the myth of the American Dream, exploring the forces of creation, growth, transcendence, and death through visions of its failed utopia.