Jay Makins: Digital Artist Returns to Painting

Detail from "Rubric 01" by Jay Makins

Jay Makins began his exploration of the visual arts almost a decade ago while traveling on leave from his day job as a corporate graphic designer. Like many young graduates, his journey was designed in part to witness the world first person but also to decide how to approach the rest of his life with his new found love for the visual. He was looking for a more personal, less structured form of expression.

Through his travels, Makins absorbed global issues and developed a straightforward approach to confronting social dichotomies through contradictory images as well as awkward shapes and high contrast palettes. Early artworks featured digital photography, paint & mixed media collage from those global adventures. Produced large on alternative substrates including aluminum and plexi sheets, their success was the impetus to throw away the suit & tie and launch a full time career in the arts. Makins now works almost exclusively with paint and mixed media.

Recent works by Jay Makins are a radical departure from his early photographic and digital mixed media works although the common thread of social friction continues throughout his canon unabated. Gone are the camera and the computer entirely, replaced in his "Contradictions" series by complex interwined grids painted, stamped and etched primarily in pure blacks and whites on neutral unprimed fabrics. Makins works both sides of the fabric in a unique push-pull, not unlike early printmakers except that Makins uses a series of painting tools and underlying textures to achieve effects that teeter the fine line separating calculated and random results.

Rubric 01 gives us a peak at another Makins tangent. He and fellow AltSur artist JP Paul often discuss the evolution of new rubrics to compare or evaluate contemporary works of art. People struggle to define digital art in terms of traditional art forms such as painting. Makins continues to side step that issue by avoiding his digital equipment entirely. However, he continues to address digital principles and methods organically.  Of immediate note is the common digital method of developing the composition by layering complex images.

Rubric 01

Jay Makins, Painting on Fabric, 100x140cm, 2016

In Rubric 01, Makins uses traditional acrylic paint, pushing, pulling and scraping one intricate layer after another. On some layers the paints are allowed to dry fully. Other times the next layer is applied in diluted form, a nod to the transparency capabilities of digital imaging softeware. By loading his brushes and scrapers with different amounts and dilutions of paint, he creates astounding depth, not unlike Gerhard Richter's squeegee paintings, Makins works are slightly more calculated and less random than the German master, nevertheless he hovers over a work for hours on end, reapplying layers or parts of layers until the work's composition reaches desired balance and impact.

Dozens of color layers intermingle throughout the compositions. The Contradictions series started with a palette almost exclusively of black & white and a few shades of grey. Makins then added warm reds and touched of yellow in some of the dot works. In Rubric. Makins incorporates the black, white and reds of the earlier work but also includes layers of golden ochre and a warm olive green.

Makins takes a jab at art traditionalists who frowned upon the work of his and other early avante garde digital artists as being disconnected from the artist and of push button simplicity. These latest works are entirely analog down to the home-made gessos, uncommon fabric substrates and physical tools. The works are densely painted with extraordinary matrix-like detail.

AltSur is proud to represent Jay Makins worldwide. For more information about existing and upcoming work, please contact us.

Posted by Altsur