Amazon Digital Services (2017)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (9/17)
Article first published as Book Review: ’39 Drawings’ by Jason Innocent on Blogcritics.
Typically, I appreciate works of art that lean towards fantasy. An artist like Boris Vallejo easily captures my attention. Through his works I allow myself to escape into another realm and avoid my current reality. The work of contemporary artist Jason Innocent in “Thirty Nine Drawings” does not allow me my escape. Instead, it forces me to sit back, look at the starkness of his work and contemplate what he might be thinking.
We come from very different paths. Jason is 22 years old, born of Haitian parents and raised in New York City. In 2012, he began attracting attention with his graffiti. While he is credited with his works as having a humorous tone and childlike style, at times I also view some of his work as stark and profound. Some examples of this would be the dedication of one of his works to the handwritten words, “DESCENDANT OF COTTON PICKERS,” or “(the word) BLACK LINGERS EVERY TIME I ACCOMPLISH SOMETHING.” Even “THIS VAGRANT LAYING ON HESTER ST USE TO BE MY TEACHER,” will make the viewer stop and think. People of similar backgrounds will relate to his words, and those of us from different backgrounds will suddenly find themselves in Jason Innocent’s realm contemplating his experience.
In “Thirty Nine Drawings” Jason Innocent uses sketchbook style drawings of what appears to be random thoughts addressing modern issues. These include social problems, power structures, class struggles, poverty, racism, and pop culture. Done in black and white or primary colors, Jason keeps everything real. Much of what I looked at evoked an emotional response. While some of those responses where humorous, others were very thought provoking.
I also found myself looking up some of the names he mentions like Jean Arp, Sweetwater Clifton, Fred Hampton, and Baron Lakwa. Through his works, Innocent managed to get me to do some research so that I could try to get a better understanding of his message. I like that, because it shows that he can create art that is not easily dismissed. On the other hand, I can only guess at some of his meaning. Because this book has no narratives, I do not know for sure whether or not I am always on the right track. As an artist, that might not matter that much to him, but as a reader I want to know more about what he is thinking. I wish Innocent included some narrative about his works, even if it was placed in the back of the book, so I could read about it afterward instead of trying to guess what the message is. Since I am a reader and not an artist, maybe I over think things!
For people who would like to check out the stimulating work of a young artist, “Thirty Nine Drawings” by Jason Innocent, is recommended viewing!