Patrick Jacobs intentionally blurs boundaries between the traditional artistic media of painting, sculpture and photography in his works. At the same time, they present the viewer with a spatial and perceptual conundrum; we are drawn into a space at once determinate and infinite, natural and contrived, prosaic and otherworldly.
Jacobs draws inspiration from sources as diverse as historical landscape painting and contemporary chemical companies’ home and garden pest control brochures, such as Chevon’s Ortho Books. Recalling the Claude glass, an optical device popular in the 18th century used to frame the picturesque, the lenses invoke the invisible eye of the wary homeowner searching an otherwise vacant domestic landscape for imagined interlopers. Ortho, Greek for “correct,” further alludes to the unending quest to control any divergence from the norm, as well as the manipulation of our sense of perspective. With such a fusion of influences, these quiet compositions offer a magical view of the mundane. Here, reality has been de-familiarized, and the uncanny has supplanted the commonplace.
Each work consists of a meticulously constructed, three-dimensional diorama installed within the wall and viewed through a circular window of glass lenses. The combination of the negative focal length of the lenses and sculptural foreshortening creates the illusion of seemingly infinite depth within the limitations of a narrow space. The result is a distorted reality corrected only when seen through the lenses. Though artificial, these worlds are nevertheless strangely real and tactile.
Whereas painters using the Claude glass sought highly picturesque moments, Jacobs’ dioramas tend to depict banal and subtle scenes, places often overlooked, such as a field with an anthill or the view out a window over a radiator. This exhibition will include several outdoor works from Jacobs’ fairy ring fungus series. “Fairy ring” refers to a folk-tale which held that dark grass and mushrooms growing in a circle followed the path made by fairies dancing in a ring. For this exhibition Jacobs has also created his most ambitious work to date, a diorama behind a nineteen-inch lens.
In “Where We Are Going From Here,” a pigeon’s tracks on the freshly poured concrete floor meander from one end of the gallery to the other like the imprints found on a random city sidewalk. This subtle though invasive gesture exists at the periphery of our perception. The gallery is shown to be an actual place in which we are made aware of our surroundings as we move through it. The viewer’s experience becomes complicit in the methodical design of an improbable turn of events.