John John Jesse’s paintings embody every adolescent punk fantasy I ever had. Growing up in a good home I had little to struggle against but there were parts of my youth that brought out the anger and frustration that punk offered an answer to. I’d get lost in records by Dead Kennedys, FEAR, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, and others hoping to vent my aggression through an aural universe populated with noise, anger, indifference to authority, and an affinity to embrace everything society abhorred.
Though the anger didn’t last the love for punk and the punk ethos never faded so when I look at paintings by John John Jesse I am right back there in that world. His paintings are autobiographical, populated with friends and situations from his youth, filtered through the lens of perspective, sobriety, and maturity. The energy and style remain but the technical skill alone is testament to a work ethic and dedication that would be impossible inside a world of heroin and alcohol.
Sexy, grotesque, and provocative, the paintings don’t exactly glamorize his years of heroin and alcohol but they don’t judge them either. It feels like we’re being presented with not just the ugly side of addiction but also the enticing aspect. It’s like he’s saying “yeah, I know it’s fucked up, but look at how beautiful it is…”
Jesse also was a founding member of the band Nausea and former member of the band Morning Glory.
See more at John John Jesse’s official blog.
All artwork © John John Jesse.