There is a depth and complexity to brush strokes that can only be achieved with ardent and repetitive application of pigment. For a designer it is stitch by stitch, for a painter it is stroke by stroke. You start with basics—maybe you go to school, a honeymoon period of guided creativity within an educational structure. You cut your teeth on the pattern and form laid out for you, fed the canon until you are ready to explode. Trained and papered, you are released into the world with the title “Artist” next to your name. You create, you show, you repeat.
Your first few years are a trial by fire. Your craft improves, your vision sharpens, and you are recognized for your work. A 9-to-5 straight job keeps the lights on in the studio and you return every evening to stoke the creative embers. Group shows lead to gallery shows, solo shows bring private collectors and public commissions. Burning your candle at both ends to meet the next deadline, you wonder if the fire is sustainable. You quit your job and walk directly into the flame, hoping for combustion.
An artist on fire, Jonathan McAfee presents his newest collection Classical Waste, opening this Friday, March 6th, at Gallery 924. This collection can best be described as artistic kairosis: the qualitative moment in an artist’s career when the exigency of creation lights the tinderbox. Stepping out of his day job earlier this year and into the studio full time, McAfee has created a vibrant seventeen-piece collection. Classical Waste is without reservation a style-defining collection coupling refined intent with unbound potential.
Graduating from Herron School of Art and Design in 2006, McAfee has developed his style over the course of nine years with notable solo shows and three thematic collections: Ikon, Some Girls, and What People Like About Me Is Indianapolis . McAfee is best known for his abstract expressionist portraits of famous figures. In his earlier pieces, there is a palpable frenetic eagerness within his figure construction, vivid gashes of acrylic color and bursts of spray-paint interplay across the canvas. McAfee carves the facial features from color-fields, layering brush strokes with an increasing sense of urgency.
Throughout the Ikon collection’s five-year inception, you see McAfee experiment, play, and grow as an artist. He shows an intuitive understanding of color theory and an instinctive sense of balance. By no means restricting his palate to conventional hues, McAfee’s art frequently features paint pulled from the mistint section of his local hardware store. It is this must-make, whatever-it-takes virility that resonates so deeply with McAfee’s collectors. McAfee harnessed the rogue DIY aesthetic and coupled it with a fluid composition giving way to that elusive and combustive slow-burn.
McAfee didn’t approach his art career passively. Hustling his art while working a full-time job, McAfee booked and produced collections for a series of shows throughout Indianapolis. Some Girls was a natural progression from the Ikon , McAfee’s visual tenacity and strong community support led to larger opportunities. A piece from Some Girls, “Girl with Hipster Glasses” was selected to appear on billboards across Marion County in the Arts Council of Indiana’s partnership project High Art. Next, McAfee approached the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library and proposed a series of portrait studies of the author. What I Like About Me Is Indianapolis opened in 2014 and featured fifteen portraits of the Hoosier icon. McAfee’s painted visages embodied a range of expressions from affable to contemplative to world-worn. The show was well received and thirteen of the paintings sold from the collection, a remarkable achievement for an artist in a Midwest market.
McAfee is poised to be a nationally exhibited artist, and Indianapolis has the privilege of debuting his next collection Classical Waste at the Arts Council of Indianapolis Gallery 924 in conjunction with IDADA First Friday Art Tour. Classical Waste is a collection that draws inspiration from modern American fashion advertising and prompts a discussion of the ideals of classical beauty, American consumerism, and the commodification of art in a modern society.
Classical Waste by Jonathan McAfee
924 North Pennsylvania Avenue
Opening Reception MARCH 6th, 6 – 9 pm
Tuesday to Friday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Thursdays 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.