If there is a collective unconscious at work in Wisconsin, Jed Leiknes may have tapped into its nightmares. It is, after all, a state renowned for cheese and serial killers in near equal measure. A skilled tattoo artist in his own right, Leiknes has developed a style of painting that is both tongue in cheek and morbidly captivating. Tongue through cheek, perhaps. His quasi-impasto portraits display a wide array of malformed creatures, snarling un-dead and pop cultural icons. There is death. There is decay. Everything bites.
While the subject matter may be horrific, each piece is carefully realized. Jed paints with an eye for detail, which speaks volumes to the passion in his work. He is an artist that not only appreciates the dark underbelly of popular culture, but the craftsmanship involved in creating it. He is in the midnight matinee by choice.
Striking at a glance, Leiknes’ paintings are notable for their rich shadows, rippling textures, and distinct use of color. They are a visual banquet, equal parts subtlety and garish excess. There is an almost tactile quality to his art. At times, it seems as though the viewer might run their fingers across the canvas and discover something more substantial than mere paint. The ridges of bone and crevasses of flesh are so meticulously crafted that one could imagine them carrying a tangible weight.
Working primarily in oils, Leiknes exercises a deft confidence in his brush strokes. He articulates agony, despair, and ravenous desire with a vibrancy that is often in sharp contrast to his subject matter. The desiccated corpses and unholy beasts seethe with barely restrained vitality. A paradox is at once amusing and a bit unsettling. His paintings are not static illustrations. They are snapshots of horror, frozen in time. Each has its own gruesome story to tell, as likely to climax in a punch line as the gnashing of teeth. He also paints many clowns, so do with that what you will.