Figure Painter Jackie Nagel Explores the Painful Process of Growth
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this post ran in 2022. We’re publishing this update in honor of our November 2023 exhibition, Down a Long, Dark Corridor, which includes work from Jackie Nagel.
A 2011 study on creativity reveals that “the creative process is characterized by flashes of insight that arise from unconscious reservoirs of the mind and brain.”
California-based artist Jackie Nagel tunes into these flashes of creative insight and paints what she sees—her figurative works blurring the subconscious landscape with reality. “I consider my subconscious an uncontrollable living liquid, leaking out little bits of visual information when I least expect it,” she writes in her artist statement. “I chase these intuitive images as they spiral into a strong compulsion to create.”
In surreal oil paintings where bare limbs intertwine with flourishing plant life, Jackie explores growth in all of its stages. In “POTHOS” she replaces a man’s head with the houseplant’s waxy, heart-shaped leaves, vines tumbling over his shoulders like coiled locks. The plant’s vines are stripped of most leaves—stunted growth, lime green leaves that indicate new growth, and the flourishing, larger leaves of past growth. “Growth is a beautiful experience but can also bring about a whirlwind of uncomfortable feelings,” Jackie observes.
Often using herself as a model, Jackie pauses to reflect on each finished work as a route to self-discovery. “I’m on an exciting journey of figuring out what these images mean to me,” she says. “I often realize the paintings serve as a mirror to my inner self and how I engage with the outer world. Seeing these indirect self-portraits forces me to become more self-aware, and I experience growth at its very core.” Lush and highly saturated—you can thank her special glazing method for the moody nightclub glow—Jackie’s prismatic works combine multiple realities into a transcendental landscape of pure emotion.
Scroll through to view Jackie’s work, then head to our November 2023 exhibition, Down a Long, Dark Corridor, to see their submission, “Glow #1”
“I consider my subconscious an uncontrollable living liquid, leaking out little bits of visual information when I least expect it.” — Jackie Nagel
All photos published with permission of the artist(s).
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