Studio Visit: Jordan Buschur

Jordan Buschur is an artist living and working in Ohio. Their work can be seen in PLEAT’s December 2018 exhibition as well as jordanbuschur.com.

Please describe your work. 

My paintings implant ordinary objects with psychological meanings, implying a human presence through depictions of accumulated collections. These collections, ranging from books to junk drawers to piles of empty boxes, focus on the oscillation between private meaning and public presentation.

Closed (and often blank) books have the potential to contain anything- primers, secrets, romances, how-to guides, theories, handbooks for improvement. They remain closed: an impenetrable façade, or conversely, a blank slate open to any interpretation. When text is present, it is both invented and extracted from the original text on the books. These small groups of words function as short poems, offering hints at the content of the books and steering the painting towards additional meanings. Mirrors are present in some paintings, though the doubled images are never true duplicates. The text changes, perspectives and colors shift, and the divide between real and reflected widens. The paintings pivot between personal resonance and public consumption, reality and invention, fixed meaning and open interpretation.

Painting the array of collected objects in a drawer is an act of meditation on my relationship with the owner, as I dwell on the mundane details of their accumulated junk. Yet the paintings stop short of functioning as a portrait of an individual through their amassed objects. Instead, the collections point towards the material weight of modern life, the anxiety of consumption, and the anonymity of personal effects. Acting as a counterpoint, a companion set of paintings depicts piles of empty boxes. All drawers are eventually emptied; the collector is no longer collecting.

What internal and external factors motivate your conceptual choices? 

I look out into a world of consumer culture that prioritizes convenience, mass production, accumulation, and disposability, all in order to fuel the economy. It's gross and yet nearly impossible to not participate in. The drawer paintings come from this place of criticism and complicity.

My book paintings are motivated by the persevering presence of physical books in our world and the many ways they function- as a source of knowledge, status symbol for display, container for secrets, opportunity for distraction, aspirational object.

Who are your artistic influences and what have you learned from them? 

I can't help but be influenced by my upbringing, particularly my mom, who was influenced by her grandmother, both collectors with impressive displays in their homes. I've picked this up in turn, but I also imagine with a bit of terror how full my house would be if I inherited all of the things they found precious. I'm really interested in the personal meaning we attach to objects and how little, if any, of that meaning is apparent to anyone else. My paintings are simultaneously rooted in and disturbed by nostalgia.

As for artists, I've been hooked on Alice Neel as long as I've been painting. Her free use of color and line within a representational space still resonates with me. I admire Karin Mamma Andersson's paintings of strange domestic spaces and paint smears as symbols of unease. I love how Angela Dufresne's paintings frizz the edge between representation and abstraction. Last year I saw a show of Korean book paintings (Chaekgeori)- it was so powerful and resonant, clearly in line with my interests, yet across continents and cultures.

How has social media affected your studio practice?

Instagram is a great window into the studio and I love seeing what other artists are up to. Obviously there are limitations to viewing paintings in the flattened screen space, so it will never replace in-person experience. I'm not sure if it has affected my studio practice, but it is another educational tool. I like sharing pictures of my in-progress and finished work; it's part diary, part promotion, part motivation.