Both Jay Isaac and Mark DeLong are engaged in expressions that reside outside of current aesthetic canons, using formal and narrative absurdities that embrace the personal and the everyday. Although in practice very distinct, Isaac and DeLong’s approaches are similar in that humour and resourcefulness are present in what could be called their own versions of process-based abstraction. Both artists make use of what is at hand, pushing their choices of material to extremes while at the same time playing with and challenging aesthetic and material expectations.
Jay Isaac’s overtly acrylic paintings further his interest in personal abstraction, this new body of work stemming from a process of psychotherapy that metaphorically depicts thought process as form. Isaac simultaneously embraces the sincere aspects of the personal while distancing himself with a self-conscious awareness of the implications and weight of using the personal as subject. The time-based paintings mimic and echo the psychological process of problem solving, while also playing with language and communication. Repeated geometric shapes become avatars for individual thoughts. Through abstractions of the letter “I”—mixed with intangible hints of brains, testicles, and other organic body forms— Isaac builds a plastic language and repeating narrative throughout the works; together, they hint at language and representation, but resolution and understanding are never completely tangible.
Mark DeLong is a self-taught artist that transitions between various mediums including ceramics, painting, tapestries, drawing and collage. The works presented in Thoughts on the Rocks are made by collecting found materials from his neighbourhood and manipulating them into abstract collages. Fruit and vegetable boxes are disassembled and reassembled in such a way that their previous utilitarian purposes are still recognizable, but through the artist’s process a new Frankenstein aesthetic emerges. Sewn coloured string decorates the surfaces, pushing the works past their source material into colourful formal abstractions. The urban paintings of Stuart Davis are recalled, as text and familiar shapes coalesce and collapse into one another. Similar to Isaac’s use of the personal, DeLong uses what is at hand, creating a type of realism that is based in materiality, humour and social critique.
Jay Isaac has exhibited at CUE Foundation (New York), the Contemporary Art Gallery (Vancouver), Night Gallery (Los Angeles), White Columns (New York), CSA Space (Vancouver), and at numerous other venues. His work is collected by the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (Kingston), the Winnipeg Art Gallery, the Glenbow Museum (Calgary), and numerous other public and private institutions.
Mark DeLong has exhibited at Abel Neue Kunst Gallery (Berlin), ACME (Los Angeles), Colette (Paris), the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (Toronto), Perugi Art Contemporana (Padova, Italy), Spencer-Brownstone Gallery (New York), and at numerous other venues.
Both artists are originally from New Brunswick.