Meet Gregory Jacobsen. He likes all those things you hate about yourself. Flab, bingo-wings, over-bite, acne, tombstone teeth, receding chins, unwanted hair, and explosive bodily fluids. He likes to put these things in his paintings. Lurid, grotesque, comic, cartoon-like pictures that make passing reference to work by artists like Francis Bacon, Picasso, Henry Darger, Bosch, and Arcimboldo. Add in some Ren and Stimpy, a splash of Joe Coleman, a twist of Walt Disney, serve over some crushed Charles Burns, with the merest hint of a Catholic upbringing then you can imbibe fully on the deliciously weird majesty of Jacobsen’s art.
Then there’s the content. Sex, murder, androgyny, and strange unnameable rituals all gleefully tied together by a wicked sense of fun.
Jacobsen was born in Middlesex, New Jersey, in 1976, a kinda industrial borough where “they manufactured nuclear bomb parts” and then “had to remove all this radioactive dirt from the site, which they buried in a junkyard two blocks behind [his] house and covered with tarp and tires.” In between exploding factories and industrial waste poisoning the fish and ducks in the rivers and ponds, Jacobsen was the fat kid, the average student with average prospects until he shifted some beef and was told go to art school because they “will take any old idiot” there. Off he traveled west to the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, where he graduated with a BFA in 1998.
At art school, Jacobsen mainly focussed on sound and performance as the painting department wasn’t too supportive in helping him develop his talent and ideas—though there were a couple of good tutors. He listened to the Fall, the Residents, the Contortions, and Captain Beefheart. He also dug “old, goofy, novelty songs from the 1950s and ‘60s, and old 78s.” This provided him with an inspirational soundtrack while he painted more and more strange, powerful and original work.
Since the turn of the century, Jacobsen’s been exhibiting his grotesque and vibrant paintings mainly thru the Zg Gallery, Chicago. His work has also been shown across country in New York and California and over the seas to Berlin and Paris. When not painting, Jacobsen makes videos and is lead singer with Lovely Little Girls an avant-garde, art-rock, prog rock, performance group who wear masks that look like the people in his paintings. See more of Gregory Jacobsen’s work here or have a swatch at his brilliant NSFW pictures below.
‘Ritual and Ceremony—No Longer Sanitary.’
More of Jacobsen’s grotesque art, after the jump…