Jasmine Crisp: Painter of relationships and stories
Years ago as a young Jasmine Crisp traced the figure of Pikachu onto a baking paper she set in motion events that would make her one of the most exciting artists in Adelaide. Today, Jasmine's colourful paintings exploring the relationship between people and their immediate environment have made her a force to reckon with in Adelaide's art world. Her paintings - often exuding an ethereal charm - forces people to look beyond the canvas and imagine the story behind the art. The current recipient of the 2018 Carclew artist-in-residence program gained new levels of acclaim when her paintings were recently displayed in Adelaide Aiport as part of the latter's art campaign.
In a conversation with TAL, the artist talks about her inspirations, the support she received from her family and friends and the need to continually challenge herself.
Before we delve into your beautiful and unique art, please tell us something about yourself.
I was born in the foothills of Adelaide, and apart from the occasional holiday, have spent my entire life around this notoriously liveable city. If I’m not in the studio, I’m most likely walking, riding, visiting art galleries, or dancing shamelessly at live gigs.
In 2017, I graduated with Honours from Adelaide Central School of Art. This year, I’m thrilled to continue my practice as an artist-in-residence at Carclew in North Adelaide. In the last five years of my study, my interest in painting grew exponentially, forcing me to think of art as a viable career option. Institutes like Carclew have further supported my dreams to pursue a career in the visual arts.
Did art interest you as a kid, or did it become a passion later in life?
I was always interested in art even as a kid. My mother would teach me to trace a picture of Pikachu onto a baking paper, and my older brother would take me through the steps of drawing Cheese TV cartoons (90’s kids will understand).
I have a very fond memory from my childhood. During a parent/teacher meet in primary school, my parents were asked to identify my drawing from among numerous illustrations displayed on a window done by other students. They were able to recognise my picture immediately! I was thrilled and touched. That incident proved that my parents understood me on a creative and an individual level.
Art seemed like a hobby while you were growing up. But what prompted you to take it up as a profession?
Despite loving and having an active interest in drawing, I didn’t see myself as a professional artist until I was in year 12. I think encouragement from my teachers and peers played an essential role in making me believe I could succeed as a professional artist.
Also, as a teenager and later as a young adult I was adamant to be faithful to the person I was. I knew I would always strive to achieve what I was genuinely interested in, and not succumb to doing something for the sake of financial security or cultural acceptance. Embracing my strengths rewarded me, and I learnt that I’d always work best that way.
When did you feel confident enough to display your work for the public to see?
Displaying my work in public was never an issue for me. I’m not sure if it was due to the trust my friends and family placed in me, an interest in feedback or just a need to show something I had created.
The first opportunity to display my artwork came in 2014 at Floating Goose Studios – all thanks to close art school friends. The opening night will always be etched in my memory. I still think the support, encouragement and the presence of people who genuinely seemed interested in my art pushed me towards my goal of being a professional artist. I am lucky to have my art exhibited many times since and to have kept that same community very close to me.
Your drawings display beautiful, almost ethereal women. What’s the reason behind this? Do you use your pictures to make a statement?
Although gender sometimes plays a role in my paintings, it is neither my sole purpose or intent to unpack issues concerning gender. I am more interested in individual subjects or personal identity of selected persons.
The figures in my works are often based on my relationships with the models. Their character is built in connection to their place within a narrative/brief, as well as personal, current details about their life. Consequently, my work focuses on people I am close to, comfortable with, admire or share exciting stories with.
How do you create an artwork? Please take us through the process.
Usually, my drawings are a result of epiphanies I might have had during a day, in a moment, or while walking. I then piece together a mental vision of what my next work/series will be.
I understand my epiphanies as moments where I connect my current concerns with my immediate environment and human relationships and convert them into practical, and visually appealing projects. Often a lot of my inspiration comes from the literature I’m reading (usually heavy non-fiction), the place I’m living in and the people I’m talking to.
I used to be more passionate about photography than painting, and it still forms the foundation on which I initiate my creation - taking images of the models and their environment, including their belongings; even those that are not present like elements from their lives or places they have lived in.
I then form compositions using cut up prints of these images or by creating digital collages using photoshop. Usually, these include at least 10 (sometimes up to 40) images in a single piece. The finished collages, which now embody my mental vision, become a guide or map concerning drawing up ideas onto the canvas (or whatever surfaces my idea beholds).
Who has been your inspiration and whose works have influenced you?
As part of school excursions, I used to frequent numerous art galleries and was also profoundly influenced by books available in the library that featured artists. Some of my early inspirations include Lucian Freud, Egon Schiele, John Brack, Magritte, Jeffrey Smart, Ben Quilty, David Booth and Paula Rego.
During art school, I was exposed to many amazing artists from all genres of art. Some artists' work that I found fascinating later on in my life included Rodel Tapaya, Brett Whiteley, Grayson Perry, David Rosetzky, Julie Fragar, Trent Parke and Kushana Bush.
As I am moving into a more ‘free-er’, experimental and impulsive method of artwork, I find myself being attracted to the works of expressive artists like Dana Schutz and Aliza Nisenbaum. I also enjoy the work of mural painters like Fintan McGee, Aryz, Etam Cru and Telmo Miel.
Along with these renowned artists, the outstanding work of local Adelaidean artists also inspires me. I am fortunate to call some of them my friends, and I make it a point to see as much as local art and artists as possible.
What has been the most emotional piece of art you have drawn to date and why?
That’s a tricky one! Every piece is emotional for me, as I invest a lot of myself in them.
But If I had to choose, then I’d lean toward a series of large works I made in 2016 for my Bachelor degree. I incorporated elements from personal memories and symbols into those works. For example, I had to present an important talk the day after my family pet had passed away. After the discussion, I had a highly charged and somewhat frustrated desire to express my mourning among the suppression of the academic environment. I went straight to my studio and painted my pet’s toys into the background of a painting – shedding many a tear in the process. I didn’t leave until they were done.
What kind of challenges do you face as an artist?
Not enough time to paint, or not being able to paint all the time? Painting instead of eating or sleeping or socialising?
Jokes aside, I enjoy challenges! Hurdles make me work harder and encourage me to be more creative. I tell myself that I will overcome whatever problem presents itself. Much like the movie ‘Yes Man’ except I’m not as funny as Jim Carrey and don’t photograph whilst running!
What kind of space do you think Adelaide provides to its artists? Do you think it can do better?
It’s well known that visual arts have suffered from recent funding cuts across Australia. However, I think that Adelaide is a fantastic place to be an artist, and I am grateful for the support that a range of organisations, institutions and artist-run spaces provide. They do a great deal to support and encourage both emerging and established artists.
Spaces like Carclew, The Floating Goose, Collective Haunt, Feltspace, Switchboard, ACEopen, (now closed) Format, The Mill, Fontanelle, PomPom, Urban Cow Studio, etc. are incredibly encouraging. And, of course, one can't forget the assistance provided by our art schools, libraries and educational institutions.
Where can one see your art?
Three of my latest paintings are currently on display for ‘She talks to rainbows’ at Adelaide Airport, which features a (seriously impressive) selection of local female artists from South Australia. I’m particularly excited to be producing a live mural painting at Art Pod from May 23 to end of August.
My most recent (and largest) painting on canvas will be included in the RSASA Youthscape art prize which opens mid-June.
And lastly, I will be exhibiting with fellow Carclew resident Brianna Speight during SALA in August at Carclew in North Adelaide.
What are your plans for the future?
I intend to keep painting, drawing, photographing, and applying for everything! I also want to keep looking out for other artists and am keen to do work that will push me out of my comfort zone (or my capabilities). My ambitions have always been a lot bigger than me!
Cover pic credit: Jon Wah
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