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Jake studied art in his youth in Italy and received his Masters inPainting from the American midwest. His prolific work involved creatingcomic hero master-studies, which has been shown in numerous institutions,art fairs and galleries across the world, including New York, Chicago, Miami,West Palm and Shanghai. An accomplished painter, his work has been collected worldwide for over two decades.

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NIFTIES Interviews Jake Johns

Hi Jake, it’s a pleasure to get an insight into your artistic personality and practice! You are a trained artist and your production is particularly informed by your personal life and travels. Can you start by briefly describing your artistic journey?

Yes, I've had many projects throughout the years. These projects have ranged from explored meaningful application with contemporary art practice and activism in politics, to current trends, to exploring world cultures, and extreme fan art.  

 

After a decade in Asia, you left China just before the country lockdown without interrupting your work. How was it to portray the experience, did it help you get through it?

Using art as an exploration and learning of Eastern culture, I subjected myself to living in China for a few years in order to teach art and study Chinese culture for a Western audience. I made paintings and wrote about my experience in my book: Available on amazon Kindle. This book aimed bridging connections between the East and the West and unfortunately the book is not available for sale in China.

 

Related to the current emergency is also your Async release, Masked, where the mask reflects the current status of the virus’ spreading. What are the most significant features of this piece, in your lights?

This piece inspires us to become more aware of the dangers of Communism and how it has affected not only on it's people but the world. This calamity has brought extreme awareness to me from my personal journeys in the East of the horror of Fascism and all of its forms. My hope is to raise awareness of this through art.  

Masked

 

Also judging from your direct experience of this critical moment, when do you think the mask will disappear from Masked?

This is the ultimate goal of the world and will be reflected in the ever-changing nature of the artwork. Imagine if the Mona Lisa could change her expression based on the pollution of the air outside? What an incredible time to be innovative in art, and block-chain technology is allowing this to happen.

 

Masked* addresses a very urgent issue, but your art is very varied, going from comics to Chinese culture, from oil paint to digital work on the blockchain. Do you have any favorite project or artist that inspires you?

I take inspirations from other dynamic creative activists, such as Ron English who uses his own "Propaganda" in art to showcase and critique this absurdity in our societies.  Although the projects are very different, there is a method to the madness. I like to think of it as anti-communist propaganda.

 

Was the Chinese reception of your work very different from that in the US? How do these markets differ? And what about the interest in your digital work in Asia?

Writing a book in China was an absolute disaster, I was working with a publisher in Shanghai who had to censor all of my writings in my book, and in the end I wasn't able to publish it because I'm a foreigner, or I didn't know the right people. It's hard to share cultural ideas in that environment.

 

Any things you miss from your time there? 

The amazing people I met there. I'm now dedicating this first-hand experience of living in a communist controlled state to help spread the awareness of the failure of this government and the people it enslaves, in the hopes of a brighter future. No system is perfect, but we must come together in the world as one to recognize the threat it poses to the free world and human beings.

 

THANKS!

 Proceedes for first sale with Async to COVID-19 Relief Fund. Owner has dynamic control over color settings on each individual layer. Layers are hidden behind a mask, which will slowly dissappear/reappear as Covid-19 stastics are projected through the John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center Statistics are projected in real time.