John John Jesse
New Hope, Pennsylvania
A voracious autodidact, John John Jesse began his career by painting posters, flyers and record sleeves for punk rock bands at the age of 14. Born and raised in New York Cityʼs Lower East Side, Jesse was a founding member of the influential punk band Nausea.
"Punk rock was the world in which I entered as a teenager because I didn't fit in anywhere. Not at school, not with friends, and not with my family. Back in the 80ʼs we were all serious misfits who didn't belong. We were angry, political, idealistic, drunk and proud. Basically punk rock music goes beyond the realms of just being a music scene. Itʼs my world and honestly itʼs all iʼve known and where i fit in.” Jesse said.
These words also mark John John Jesseʼs career as a painter. He embodies the New York City punk rock lifestyle and he shares this through his paintings. His uniquely styled drawings laid the ground work that transformed him into a painter. Later on his style evolved into a distinct artistic language, concentrating on obsessive details, combined with true life images birthed from his experiences. Vivid colors built up in translucent layers of gouache, graphite, ink, spray paint and acrylic, hand painted on wooden panels and framed in vintage baroque frames.
While some may define his work as a combination of pop culture and surrealism enveloped by a dreamy atmosphere, John John Jesseʼs themes are actually real memories and nostalgic blends of innocence, heartbreak, cultural connotation, rebelliousness and temptation. What we see in his works are not imaginary scenes but realities that have lived with the artist.