Continuing through July 31, 2019
“Picasso is an asshole.” It’s the top line in a string of staccato sentences stacked for maximum effect in one of Christopher Jagmin’s recent works, “Looking for Heroes.” The 25 pieces in “Listicles + Clickbait” blend dissection of contemporary culture with autobiography to powerful effect. Other lines, including “Bill Cosby is America’s rapist” and “Christopher Jagmin is a dick,” question personal and public perceptions in playful yet profound ways. Jagmin continues the revelatory tradition of text-based artworks but foregoes the grand scale of Steve Powers or Jenny Holzer’s infusion of light-based technologies. Working primarily with a simple color palette of micron pens, Jagmin brings forth his own ruminations on self and society to raise issues of identity and worth. The thoughtful simplicity of his designs contrast with the complexity of their content, which ranges from religion to sexuality. Letters are formed imperfectly. Lines rarely run perfectly straight. Instead, they reflect the messiness of life and myriad attempts to navigate it without writing oneself off the page. Periods would be pointless because the stream of self-talk is never ending in Jagmin’s interior universe.
These artworks affirm that words, too often a casualty of contemporary culture, have power. They serve as a compelling reminder for an age dominated by fast scans of visual iconography, from ads to selfies. Sometimes his subject matter is mundane; other times it’s weighty. In “Not gonna look,” Jagmin addresses the compulsion to constantly scan one’s cell phone. With “If I were rich” he captures dreams unrealized. The artist’s humor ranges from cutting to lighthearted, mirroring the myriad coping mechanisms that inform his work. “Sign up” is a checklist for art buyers. “WORRISOME” references the cult of celebrity. “I WILL NEVER DO THIS” hints at personal trauma. Common threads include anxiety, particularly the ruminations by which people create or change their personal realities. Jagmin raises a question central to the relationship between interior dialogue and public discourse: To what extent are people driven by personal and political propaganda — and how can words broaden, rather than constrict, one’s perspective?