I remember the first time I met Jasmine Alleger, at an artist critique I attended years ago. She was very serious, self-contained and alert to all the artists and the paintings up for discussion. Watching everything and everyone, she did not need anything, and at any time, cat-like, she could have disappeared quietly unnoticed with no one the wiser – except a certain subtle passion and intensity would have also left the building.
As an artist, my next question here would inevitably be, “What does she look like?” She has striking features, elaborate tattoos and hair that is an accessory – frequently changing colors, length and style. Like her paintings, she herself is a configuration to work on, to meditate on and continually define and re-define. The ink on one of her arms is an exquisite portrait of John Steinbeck. This is important. Jasmine, like Steinbeck, as a person (and an artist) has the contradictory air of a fatalist who, despite all, believes in the perfectibility of human nature.
In her paintings, the time-bound works of mankind with their rusting fenders, peeling paint, cracks and chips are endlessly fascinating….and reassuring. In this age of sterile specialization and quantitative science, she confidently reveals that the qualitative wins in the end after all.
There will always be picture-makers using brushes, slathering pigment on a flat surface. And like most of them, her work has layers, not just the physical ones, but also concepts explored, then abandoned, then recharged and added to or adjusted. In her case, all of this painterly and intellectual accumulation can still result in a deceptively simple image.
The images below are those that she selected at my request to include with this blog post. They are all about her visit to the Yucatán with a friend last year and include several paintings inspired by that trip. As I write this, she is in the air on her way to Iceland with her partner Sean, he’s an architect. She has no idea what I’m blogging about her and will see it the same time you do.
I can hardly imagine and greatly anticipate what artwork will come out of her interpretation of the bleak landscape of Iceland – as far from Mexico as one can imagine. But there is an even more important reason. When Jasmine paints she is one of the few artists I know brave enough to fearlessly wade through centuries of ancient art and actually use it as a telescope to see far into the future. Not just inspired by the old things and their cultural context but liberated by them as well – Jasmine paints.