Keeping up with with Booth Gallery’s restless artistic and intellectual explorations, fine artist, illustrator, art director and designer Jesse Draxler brings to life, in unapologetically surreal, dadaist, expressionist black & white, the notions of everyone’s inner battle with mortality – or delusions of becoming immortal. Inspired by the elaborate scientific perspective of the book “The Worm At The Core”, from which the upcoming “Terror Management™” exhibition borrows its title, Draxler may not attempt to serve up all the answers, but he certainly confronts our lingering demons, nodding at them with explicit dare and a refreshingly mischievous grin.
Ambivalently balancing against grandiose artistic statements such as the “…Fame, I wanna live forever” line we’ve all wistfully sang along some time or another, Draxler’s attempts at TM™ are significantly more outlandish, yet so familiar, poignantly nonsensical and profoundly relevant. As the artist explains in the following interview, he just tries the best way he can – and, as it happens, that is way more fascinating, and crazy comforting.
Here’s Jesse, going for the core…
Jesse Draxler “Terror Management™”
Saturday, January 9, 2016 | 6-9 PM
January 9–February 20, 2016
325 W. 38th St. (Store #1) | New York, NY
For purchasing information and availability, please contact the gallery directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Danai: What was it about “The Worm At The Core” that mostly resonated with you?
Jesse: Just the fact that it exists. I had never come across a scientific exploration on the subject, so it was refreshing to read something coming at it from a different angle other than emotional, philosophical, or existential.
Danai: Was there a particular moment that you personally remember first being confronted with the existential angst of mortality? Was it panic or humour that ultimately won over?
Jesse: I was exposed to some hardcore mortality at a pretty young age. I have a memory from adolescence in which I am asking my dad why I always felt bad inside, even when nothing was particularly wrong at that moment. I remember making lists in my head of everything that was happening in my life and checking them off as I decided whether or not they were a pressingly bad issue that I should be in fear of. When I would come to the end of the list and seemingly everything was okay I would get very confused, because I still felt the “bad” feeling. That was some 20+ years ago and since then I wouldn’t say anything has won over. Terror and hilarity hold equal stake. I am at a stage of surrender, trying to accept the absurdity of literally everything. Realizing perception is the only reality, and thus working to sharpen my perception.
Danai: The book itself claims that creativity, creating a legacy, can be a way of dealing with your personal mortality, among others. Do you feel art is chiefly about expressing yourself and taking pleasure in the moment, or more of a conscious attempt to create long-term ties with the future?
Jesse: To be motivated by creating a legacy is to be thinking about a past that hasn’t happened yet, in a future that I will no longer exist in. I can’t wrap my head around that, so the idea of a legacy has never been something that motivates me. Taking pleasure in the moment is a ridiculously difficult barrier to break into, although it is the goal. At the moment I’m just trying to express myself and my ideas in the best way I can.
“Joke Painting 001”
Danai: When did you first realize that creating art could be one solid, cathartic way of dealing with your personal troubles and fears as a whole?
Jesse: I never feel a true catharsis because I am still unsure of what I am searching for relief from – every piece I finish leaves me wanting to create an infinite amount more – much like an answer to a question leading to only more and more questions.
Danai: In pure materialistic terms, what are your preferred creative tools? Can you give us a more step-by-step process of creating your collages?
Jesse: Short answer: No. Long answer: Process and material experimentation hold a very important place in my process. There is no A to B. Half the time I’m not even sure how I got from one point to another – that may be my favorite thing about my practice, learning from the process, being guided by the nature of the materials. But even if I could tell you exactly how I created a piece, I wouldn’t. It should be inconsequential to the impact of the image or idea – you know, art being more than the sum of its parts and all.
Danai: The largely faceless figures in your collages often seem chaotic, confused, absurd. Apart from them obviously being a stylistic choice, do you think we could see more “orderly” art by Jesse Draxler in the future, once some of your inner turbulence starts getting settled?
Jesse: I dig the optimism here.
Danai: As your art suggests, where there’s chaos, there’s also lots of creative fun, or wit. Is that your general way of dealing with things?
Jesse: Yes and no. As I said previously I try to accept the absurdity of everything – the way I see it every single thing has a level of absurdity, including tragedy. So when life gets chaotic I try to keep it as light as possible. That being said most of the time I am able to do that on an exterior level, but internally I’m freaking the fuck out.
“Telepathic Link To Hell”
“No Joke Painting 003”
“Fucked Up Chuck Close Print 001”