Mike Jacobs

Mike Jacobs mixes assemblage aesthetics with formalist interventions throughout his compositional choices, not to mention the complexity of how color and form interact across multiple surfaces of any one piece. A truly hybrid producer, both figurative and abstract elements abound in Jacob’s art practice, where nearly every kind of motif can enter into the mix, unabated. The use of an edited image, a cropped sequence, and an unexpected juxtaposition all speak to the fragmentation and recomposition of phenomenological experience that has become common in the early twenty-first century. 

Jacob’s work is a critical commentary on this precarious situation that operates by orchestrating the selection of iconographic material for his paintings in such a way that it alludes to the original source material or experience, but transforms it into something wholly new and unexpected. The scrim of images he pulls from life, advertising, and art history are all woven together into a seamless whole that makes the pictorial field function like a punctum of sorts. This Barthesian reference refers to the representational wound opened up by being-in-the-world, i.e., by a confrontation with the kinds of significant details that serve to establish an immediate and perfunctory relationship between a discrete object of perception and the person viewing it. 

It is this quality of the one-to-one experience, of seeing the hand of the maker in every aspect of the object --- or of the labor-intensive quality of fitted adjustments, tweaked configurations and the process of pictorial condensation --- that comprises the most significant aspects of Jacob’s oeuvre. Taken on the whole, the experience of a punctum-like quality in his work produces a visual epiphany of sorts that touches on the ineffable, which is a quality that pervades his entire aesthetic. This is because Jacob’s work is best seen in person, both to admire the complexity of the congress of images, but also to better understand how the selection of materials and the methods of manufacture work to create a gestalt impression of lasting measure. There are few artists working today where the fusion of the sculptural, the painterly and the post-painterly have taken on the kind of expanded dimensions that have made Jacob’s work into one of the most well-recognized aesthetics in the Valley, not to mention how well-respected they are in the art world at large.

Bio: Mike Jacobs received his BFA from the University of Cincinnati in 2000. He lived and worked in Cincinnati, Ohio as an artist and Industrial Design Model Technician until 2016. Jacobs later earned his MFA from the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University in 2019. While at ASU Mike was the recipient of grants, awards, and scholarships from the Martin Wong Foundation, Arizona Artists Guild, the Gayle J. Novak & Robert D. Cocke Award in Painting, and the Gerry Grout Visual Arts Scholarship. He has exhibited his work nationally at the FotoFocus Biennial, Cincinnati, OH, the Mesa Art Center, Mesa, AZ, Untitled Art Projects gallery, Los Angeles, CA, the Baton Rouge Gallery Center for Contemporary Art, Baton Rouge, LA,  and internationally at the ARTE Galería, Quito, Ecuador. Jacobs is currently based in Phoenix, Arizona. 

Jacob’s art practice deploys a post-digital, multimedia image-making processes, combining deconstructed photographic imagery and painted geometry to investigate the technical systems, visual culture, and scientific paradigms of optics that influence normative strategies for activating perception, exploring illusion, and depicting space throughout the history of art.