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Fan Mail: Jered Sprecher

For artist Jered Sprecher, painting is a medium for conveying the tensions between the abstract and the concrete. His works are balanced between the painterly and the conceptual; in the catalog for his 2014 exhibition Stacking Stones at Gallery 16 in San Francisco, Sprecher wrote: “When I work I want to create paintings that surprise, paintings that can hold competing ideas but not contain them.”

Jered Sprecher. Water & Logic, 2014; oil on jute; 56 x 46 inches. Courtesy of Gallery 16.

Jered Sprecher. Water & Logic, 2014; oil on jute; 56 x 46 in. Courtesy of Gallery 16.

His works combine recognizable motifs with expressive, abstract gestures that offer intricacies of line, color, and shape. Over the past decade Sprecher has created an impressive array of large-scale and small-scale paintings, all of which challenge central ideas about painting and representation: How can an artist describe objects in a new way? How does one map what we know of the world? With a fluidly shifting yet recognizable visual language, Sprecher’s paintings often explore and juxtapose motifs from landscapes, natural and human-made objects, and imagery taken from photographs that linger in the artist’s mind—a desert vista from a residency in Marfa, Texas; a collection of stones; an aging photograph of three doves from an old family photo album.

Jered Sprecher. The Sleep The Laughter, 2013; acrylic and paper on linen; 11 x 8 inches. Courtesy of Steven Zevitas Gallery.

Jered Sprecher. The Sleep The Laughter, 2013; acrylic and paper on linen; 11 x 8 in. Courtesy of Steven Zevitas Gallery.

Water & Logic (2014) blends the abstract and the concrete with a unified palette and composition. The Sleep The Laughter (2013) abstractly depicts three doves in a barely representational profile, highlighted with rich blue-grays and dashes of a cut-grass green, all of which is loosely applied over an under-painting of green, blue, yellow, and pink that peeks through at points throughout the composition.

Jered Sprecher. At the End of the Sea, 2014; oil on canvas; 40 x 30 inches. Courtesy of Gallery 16.

Jered Sprecher. At the End of the Sea, 2014; oil on canvas; 40 x 30 in. Courtesy of Gallery 16.

In Calling (2013), Sprecher paints the more recognizable motif of flowers. With a bright pink outline mixed with patches of a milky white against a mysterious background, they pop and fade, carrying into the mind like a half-remembered dream, nostalgic but immediate. That energy is palpable in both Calling and The Sleep The Laughter, yet it is a subtle, contained energy. The abstract qualities of these paintings don’t directly compete with the representational elements but work together to create a vibrant tension.

Jered Sprecher. Calling, 2013; oil on canvas; 46 x 36 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Jered Sprecher. Calling, 2013; oil on canvas; 46 x 36 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

An earlier work, Affinity (2011), takes a more abstract approach, with vibrant geometrical diamonds of pastel colors and white in a textile-like pattern that create a surprising degree of physical depth, like two walls meeting to form the corner of a psychedelically wallpapered room. Many of Sprecher’s earlier, more abstract works evoke a state of unresolved vision where signs and colors are just beginning to come together. Impressively, Sprecher’s paintings all embody this pre-visual state of seeing.

Jered Sprecher. Affinity, 2011; oil on linen; 68 x 52 inches. Courtesy of Steven Zevitas Gallery.

Jered Sprecher. Affinity, 2011; oil on linen; 68 x 52 in. Courtesy of Steven Zevitas Gallery.

Sprecher’s works are richly awash in their own delicate aesthetics of a complex array of sensitively depicted signs and a uniquely evolving visual language. His paintings draw in viewers with their visual vocabulary and rich, painterly surfaces. In the artist’s own words: “Much of what drives my work is looking at things made by other human beings and the urge to communicate embedded in those objects. The world that surrounds us is filled with objects and images that are designed, marked, built, reorganized, framed, and edited. These images and ideas are human constructions. They are ways of mapping, knowing, and manipulating the world in which we live.”

Jered Sprecher earned a BA in History and Studio Arts from Concordia University, Nebraska, and an MA and an MFA in Painting from the University of Iowa. He has been an artist-in-residence at the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas; the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland; and the Space Program, Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation, New York, New York. His work has been presented internationally in solo and group exhibitions at the Chinati Foundation; Gallery 16; Kinkead Contemporary; Rasche Ripken Berlin; and the Knoxville Museum of Art. His work is in public and private collections including Artist Pension Trust, Nerman Museum, and Tama Art Museum.

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