What does dark art look like? Something riddled with political uncertainty? Blood, guts and gore? American artist Jess Draxler is doing things a little differently. Mashing photography collages with monochrome painting mastery, Draxler’s work emits a ghoulish aura without appearing unsettling. Often the subjects of his creations hide in the shadows of their own torsos, which are cloned and piled on top of one another to create sinister structures which are difficult to wrap your head around at first glass. He has previously been commissioned by the Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine, and has now lent his cut-and-paste signature style to a capsule with Hugo Boss’ Hugo line.
Inspired by the works of German conceptual artists Joseph Beuys, Bernd and Hilla Becher, as well as the imagery of photographer August Sander, Draxler embellished the clean lines of monochrome wardrobe staples. For each of the five pieces from the collection, Draxler created original prints from scratch, each toying with the human form. What to expect? Portraits clash with snapshots of rustic engines and faces are layered upon faces to create a sea of deep pools for eyes. The works are slapped on the back of classic shirting, hoodies and t-shirts – transforming Hugo staples into miniature works of art you can wear day-to-day. To get a little closer to the abstract mind behind these twisted works, we asked the artist 10 questions:
10 Magazine: What has been the best exhibition you’ve seen this year?
Jesse Draxler: APT9 (The 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art) at the QAGOMA in Brisbane this past January. The works were vibrant and alive, a more visceral and affirming experience than I have grown accustomed to from museums.
10: What’s the worst nightmare you’ve had?
JD: Being chased, if I have a gnarly dream its usually that I’m being chased.
10: You produced the album artwork for the latest Daughters album, what’s your favourite track from the album?
JD: Less Sex, that eerie driving groove.
10: Where in the world do you feel most creative and?
JD: Wherever I am, because I am there.
10: What’s your favourite piece from Hugo the collection?
JD: The minimal collage I dubbed Machine Head. (Half and half portrait with engine on top.)
10: When did you begin working only in greyscale?
JD: Some years ago now. Colour has always been a point of tension in my practice because I am colourblind. At one point I decided to mix it all together in order to further play to my strengths instead of struggling with something that felt unnatural, but only is a harsh word because the sentiment no longer holds true as colour makes its way back into certain aspects of my work.
10: You work a lot with distorting the human form, what part of the body do you think is the most ghoulish?
JD: The brain, all those thoughts.
10: If you could paint a ghostly portrait of anyone dead or alive, who would you pick?
JD: Nothing is stopping mefrom painting a ghostly portrait of anyone dead or alive…and yet I don’t. So no one. If I decide I want to, I will.
10: What films inspired your practise growing up?
JD: The Crow and Hackers.
10: What’s your go-to outfit when you are creating?
10: Boxer briefs.
by Paul Toner
The Jesse Draxler x Hugo collection is available to buy online and in selected stores.