Southern California artist Jeff Gillette’s colorful and chaotic creations reveal our societal failures to the greater human race, and the forgotten wastelands of our world. Whether with his paintings or his sculptures, he explores the fascinating juxtaposition of the most challenging horrible places in the world with some of the supposed happiest places in the world, and through that play, creates the disjointed universe in between our dreams and our nightmares.
With bits of pop culture showing through the wreckage of a town or place, the viewer is caught peeking into a place that doesn’t feel like anyone should be able to survive, but it is obviously inhabited. His “slumscapes” feel familiar with the touches of pop culture, but also so post-apocalyptic they feel fictitious. They often include references to actual places Gillette visits regularly for inspiration, while simultaneously referencing our insatiable greed as a society, using remnants of corporate American greed and pieces of Disney to contextualize his scenes.
After serving as a Peace Core volunteer in Nepal, Gillette was drawn to the images of these crowded slums in incredibly impoverished cities. He spent years traveling through Southern Asia, photographing and studying how these slums exist and function in comparison to gluttonous American lifestyle.
Gillette’s creations are incredibly detailed and filled with purpose, in both painting and sculpture. His compositions have great balance with atmosphere, tone, presence and perspective. He is propelled into these large slumscapes by the passionate drive he gets delving deep into the subconscious terrain, combining our society’s greatest fears and greatest compulsions through artistic expression. For over 20 years, he has been infusing the poverty, slums, landfills and surreal landscapes of impoverished areas all over the world with his satirical and cynical artistic style to bring a kind of reality check to the greater art world.
His work has been shown in many galleries across the world, but can often be seen at Copro Gallery in Santa Monica or at Bert Green Fine Art in Chicago. His work is also featured in various prestigious collections across the country. He was a contributing artist to Banksy’s subversive theme park, Dismaland, in the UK town of Weston-super-mare, and is cited as being one of the main inspirations behind the slum-Disneyland aesthetic tone of the park.
The dense slumscapes set the stage for a strong but silent message, created by Gillette, to jar us awake and to inspire us to see more clearly at what is going on in our world.