back   |   home   |   next
international painting annual 2 exhibition-in-print
online resource

Jake Johnson
Springfield, Missouri


page 110

detail image


An intimate scene presents us with a costumed man resting on the edge of a bed.  He wears on his chest a symbol for a hero of our time, although an adult playing dress-up in the solitude of his own room reveals the opposite of the traditional idea of hero.  He becomes a loser, or an anti-hero.  He reveals a childhood fantasy that ends in a sad (adult) reality.

Batman is based off of a painting of Mars by Diego Velázquez.  The original hangs in the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain.  The artist (Velázquez) reveals a sense of humor in the painting as the infamous war god is portrayed here not as a strong warrior (as his armor is stripped from him on the floor) but as a weaker more human-like version.  Here Mars is not a fighter, but a lover as this is a scene portrayed from Greek mythology where the warrior god has been caught in romance with the love goddess Venus.  Rumors state that this painting
was also a portrait of King Phillip IV, who was known himself to be the flirtatious type with the ladies.  One of the strongest themes in Velásquez's painting that con-temporized his works was that of banal humanity.  The artist was representing the average person as mythological god.  In essence Velázquez takes a god from above and brings him down, making him human as he stripped his armor to the floor.  Batman attempts to meet Velázquez in the middle, rising from below (A pile of comic books on the floor) to become human.

The ultimate of master studies, this picture is reconstructed to the exact dimensions of the 400 year old painting.  A decade of study of academic painting, drawing and composition brought me to this point.  Materials and techniques(single colors are applied in multiple layers, allowing a translucent mixing and depth of value) were studied and reproduced to the best of my abilities.  Color patterns are reversed and objects are replaced with in the composition with metaphorical updates.  A helmet which hides Mars face in shadow is replaced with a mask.  The costume becomes one with the figure, as it is painted with the same veracity of the flesh.

This artwork part of a revival of a tradition of heroic painting, to glorify in its academic roots, to participate in its history but also to con-temporize it with a hero of our time.  I make light of these traditions by reconstructing a theatrical setting by which my childhood hero can come to life.  I pair him(batman) with his ancient mythological equivalent (the god of war) to better understand the cultural significance of these hero types throughout time and the present.  I test my hand against the old masters, to rediscover what has been 'lost'.  This brings a different light, both literally and metaphorically to our comic book characters.


born: 1984, Kansas



University of Missouri, MFA, 2011


selected awards/honors

2011, Juried Selection at the Prince Street Gallery of New York, of 68 selected art out of 900+, Juror William Bailey


selected publications

March, 2011 Wetpaint 2011 catalog, Zhou B Art Center, Chicago IL.

selected group shows

January/March, 2011 Wetpaint 2011, Zhou B Art Center, Chicago, IL.
July, 2011 National Juried Exhibition, Prince Street Gallery, Juror: William Bailey, Art Emeritus at Yale and member of The American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. 520-West 25th St 4th floor New York, NY
March, 2010 Nation Self Portrait Exhibition, 33 Collective Gallery, Chicago IL.
Jan/Feb, 2010 Wet Paint Exhibition, Zhou B Art Center, Chicago, IL.


Copyright © 2006-2013 Manifest Press