Jay Young is a self-taught artist based out of Virginia Beach, VA. Young is obsessed with distorting the figure with multiple layers of resin, oil paint, spray paint and other various mediums to build the mood in a way that feelings dominate the composition. Young’s work falls heavily in the figurative expressionism category and other have said surrealism. His work consistently pulls from the subconscious mind to bring feeling into form.
What is the story you want your art to tell?
JY: Looking in the mirror. Every time I feel like I’m going through a season in my life my art imitates it. Not the story in the season but the feeling from it. I want the viewer to look at my work and have an experience that makes them ask why. It’s refreshing when the viewer is feeling the same thing back but from a different point of view. Shows me they are looking in the mirror as well in their own way.
What has been the biggest influence on your art?
JY: Art appreciation. Devouring sources and references of paintings of all different movements and artists. Picking and pulling from anything that has inspired you. Picasso, Ryan Hewett, and George Condo have really influenced my current work.
What is your favorite style of art?
JY: Abstract expressionism. The way Twombly filled space with child like markings that made you feel young again, Rothko demanding a mood with such limited color palettes, or how Pollock captured the art of flow scattering paint like jazz. They also loved to work in very large scale to make the viewer feel like they were inside the painting. They were geniuses. Capturing the art of feeling and expressing it in the most genuine way they knew.
How did Nicola Samori impact the direction of your art ?
JY: When I first dabbled in oil paint 4-5 years ago I became obsessed with figurative art. I had a huge respect and appreciation for the representational artists that led oil painting, but it just didn’t strike a chord in me. I was discovering numerous artist like Nicola Samori who distorted the flesh of the figure. I experimented with different gesso textures, mediums, layers, and chemical reactions to really push the context of the flesh. Samori is famous for creating renaissance style paintings with a dark twist that had colors oozing out of the flesh. After experimenting and failing constantly I found a resin that I would start pouring on my pieces from the open wounds I created out of the face. That was the beginning foundation and start to my current work.
How does your love for boxing tie in to what you do as an artist?
JY: Boxing has showed me the value of just showing up. It’s not what you do in that time frame because every day is going to be different on how you perform. But showing up is the most important factor. It makes you face the reality of action. It’s also taught me the philosophy of you vs you. Every time I don’t perform the way I want in sparring or how I get tired after mitts, etc. I immediately look at myself as the opponent and take responsibly for not working harder. I’ve applied that to painting as well. To not only show up, but to actually put in the work that you want to see.
What is the intent behind the distortion in the faces of your paintings?
JY: The art of chaos into order. I paint the figurative form because it’s the most familiar thing to me. I fill that form with gestural marks, resin pours, and swabs of oil paint to replicate that feeling I’m facing. Adding on and pulling away with no blueprint but just the present moment and what I’m feeling. Realism bores me, I want to push it further than that dimension. Distortion is the only way that makes sense to me to represent the accurate feelings.
Photography by Roland Filipe
Q&A conducted by Ryan Cyrus and Cameron DeLoatch