Painting Review: Jackie Tileston

Finally, I made it to the gallery district for a night of professional reviews!  Unfortunately, my companion and I made it only as far as two galleries before the night ended.  We will have to wait for Spring to hit a good round of exhibitions.

Initial reactions:  Zg gallery has once again successfully endeavored to demonstrate to the public that any kid who doodles in the margins of their notebooks claiming that no one understands their artistic inner-self is somehow entitled to a gallery show after they’ve completed some sort of inane grad school.  To quote from Graham Norton, “It’s a bit shit, isn’t it.”  The polished turd is still a turd.

Harsh? Not really.  As a former student of the academic arts, I rarely can handle art such as this.  Jackie Tileston is the artist; here are a few examples of her work – apologies on the quality of the images as they are from my cellphone camera:

Jackie Tileston, "Great Highest..."

Jackie Tileston, "Great Highest Cavern Mystery Numinous Treasure Subtle Scripture (On Extinguishing and Conveying the Five Refinements and Reviving the Corpse"

There are also photographs, but for this review (and my own sanity) I will restrict myself to the paintings and works on paper.

Seeing exhibits like this makes me wonder if people ever partake in peer reviews anymore, and secondly, if those peer reviews are actually criticisms or simply undergrad ego-fluffers and popularity contests.  Because what we have here is someone who has fallen through – or rather – kicked, punched, and whined their way through to the gallery world without either listening to anyone’s advice, without caring about art and its history, or from some sort of private art world of the elite where no criticism was allowed.   This whole postmodern “freedom of expression” movement is utter crap and Tileston’s paintings are an excellent index of the problem:

I walked into the gallery and thoroughly did not care.

Jackie Tileston, "Floating World #4"

It might be because I do not follow “this sort of art”, it might be that I am missing some sort of diachronic narrative of which these paintings are an important piece, or it might be that I “really need to know the artist” to understand or care about the work.  But once again I fall back on 5000 years of art history and retort with: I shouldn’t have to.  The philosophical approach: I ought to be able to enter a gallery and immediately get a feeling for the point of the work.  Paintings are a means to convey a communication about an experience the artist understands that we may have shared and the artist cannot convey this complex dialog in any other way.  Speaking, singing, poetry, literary discourse, music, dance, etc. are all means to convey a complex idea where no other way was able – each has its own limitations, which is why its best to learn about a number of them, if you are an artist.  The contemporary world of fine art has refined art to such a degree, that art has become so personal that it can no longer link people from a shared experience as it once did.  People believe, falsely, that they are somehow so unique from one another that one cannot possibly know what another is “going through”.  Painters, writers, composers, and choreographers used to be masters of observation.  These people used to be able to take thousands of empirical data points from their experiences and realize that their experiences are not actually that unique at all, and that communicating these experiences in the arts created a certain form of catharsis for not only the artist, but for all viewers as well.  As we age, we move through taste.  Taste, meaning, our understanding of a subject matter and how it not only reacts to our own aesthetic needs and desires, but how such subject matters affect others – the feeling of closeness to other humans in a shared, esoteric manner.  I can stand next to a Monet haystack and when another person stands there with me, we both share an experience that the two of us have had and Monet has had – although the specifics are certainly very different, it’s the feeling of the experience and what it leaves us with that matters.  So here is my little thesis: your tastes are not necessarily your own and as an artist, our job is to collect taste data and construct a conversation about life as a human in a matter by which not only our generation and culture understands, but also humans over time.  Paint not for now, but for someone 500 years from now.  It is possible, any museum can demonstrate this gift.

Jackie Tileston, "The Transcendent to Superintends Reality..."

With Tileston’s paintings, few positive things can be said.  I do enjoy her materials – linen canvas, with what appears to be a size used, but no clear evidence of a chalk ground.  She has a nice eye for color contrasts and general composition, but she really should push it more.  I get the feeling that although part of the painting is very busy with line and color, that Tileston has not explored complete canvas coverage.  The paintings seem very mannerist – they are all basically the same thing, the same process, and this process is boring. The line work is of course full of energy, but it’s a fleeting energy, one I feel is lost as soon as I look away.  There seems to be no pre-thought into the forms that will appear; simply paint of different types and some cut-outs thrown on to an otherwise nicely stretched linen canvas, hoping for a happy accident.  Her titles too, also happy accidents.  The painting I was going to focus on most of all is entitled: “Great Highest Cavern Mystery Numinous Treasure Subtle Scripture (On Extinguishing and Conveying the Five Refinements and Reviving the Corpse”.  Seriously?  I remember art students trying to pass off titles like this in painting courses back in college.  It’s fun to randomly select meaningless words for a painting right?  My only hope is that the titles are supposed to explain to the viewer that the artist is well aware of her confusing disasters on the canvas by reflecting the confusion and randomness in the title.  But I believe it was intended as serious.

Jackie Tileston, "Paradise Unfound"

Here are the Endless Slug’s suggestions for Jackie Tileston:

1. The big-small, random images and lines are dated and done to death.  Walk into any college art class and you’ll see at least 8% of the students are doing exactly what you’re doing.  I do have to say that your paintings are far more sophisticated, finished, and professional, however.  But this is the whole problem – the idea was old when you started and you’ve just simply learned how to make crap look professional. I’d find a different subject matter for the paintings.

2. Finish a ground once in a while.  The raw linen look works in some cases, but to have 30% or more of every canvas just demonstrates that you do not know how to paint.  These paintings I would consider ‘drawings on canvas with paint.’  Throw a chalk ground down and paint it linen colored if you like the color, but my instinct tells me that you prefer the linen-look since you probably found it accidentally and realized that the public is easily fooled.

3.  Randomizing titles is just immature for a painter.  Again, there may be a point to it but that point ought to be clearer to the viewer.  As I see it, these paintings look unfinished and half-assed.  When I then look at the title – which I need to for some sort of clue as to why this is on the wall – the title simple reinforces my instinct that these are all very half-assed and attempting to act the part of decorative contemporary art so that some upper-middle class homeowner/businessman or woman, untrained in the arts will purchase it and put it somewhere in their foyer in their new house in the cookie-cutter subdivision far west of [city].

In conclusion and as always, I urge people reading this review to physically get off your butt and head over to the Zg gallery to see the work.  Why would I send you to a gallery which I believe is housing such horrible work?  Because you should take what I have said and go apply it to the work.  You might not agree and could teach me something, but mostly, you will be seeing art as it should be seen – on a wall, hoping to speak with you some day.


One Response to “Painting Review: Jackie Tileston”

  1. madaardvark Says:

    My response to this:

    Today I was teaching my students about John Locke and the importance of empirical observation as a means to understanding the world; its importance to all Western artistic, political, and religious thought since that time; and the contemporary criticism/contemporary misinterpretation of the British Empirical and European Rational movements (i.e., if it’s personal observation, doesn’t that lead us to subjective definitions of reality?).

    They understood and were enlightened.

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