The Rusty Toque | Portfolio | Issue 6 | May 30, 2014
Jay Isaac’s paintings in The Sponges present different trajectories, directions, and temporary solutions enacted before the arrival of the completed work; a visible record of the artist’s mark-making endeavors maintain that each effort is valued as potential. The multifaceted accumulation of tests and experiments, both formal and conceptual are referred to by the sponge being an obvious cleaning or editing device, communicating the nature of the paintings, and how editing becomes process-based. The sponge is used as both a painting tool and as figurative representation within the works—in this way, Isaac’s use of the sponge is at once a metaphor but also enables metaphor.
Isaac’s attempt is to make these paintings autonomously visual and fully self-referential, outside of art history. The works become testaments to the failure of this effort and a self-acknowledged critique of the artist’s leanings. The works relate to Yves Klein's use of sponges as a painting tool and his interest in "nothingness" and aesthetic "badness". They also relate to process-based surrealism, making use of free association and intuitive assembly. Isaac’s sponges can be seen metaphorically as the surrealistic interest in the subconscious mind, utilizing it for artistic possibilities.
The notion of communication in the works is at once acknowledged and denied. The paintings communicate an interiority; relating how they came to be, with little or no outward thesis. This vagueness is contradicted with the use of the sponge imprint as direct communication of a figurative subject, used as a printmaking tool that indicates its exact form.
JAY ISAAC'S work has been exhibited at Monte Clarke (Vancouver), CSA Gallery (Vancouver), the Contemporary Art Gallery (Vancouver), the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), CUE Foundation (New York), Acuna-Hansen Gallery Project Space (Los Angeles), Mercer Union (Toronto), Weatherspoon Art Museum (Greensboro NC), The Power Plant (Toronto), White Columns (New York) and numerous other venues. His work has been published by Canadian Art Magazine, C Magazine, Border Crossings, Millions Magazine, Flash Art, and numerous catalogues. Isaac lives and works in Toronto.