In my drawings and paintings, bewildering states of fear and awe reflect my experience of the world as nightmarish and regal. Through mystery and awe, my works operate like dreams; improvisational, intimate and honest. As an artist, I think about living at the end of the world, that we will be judged harshly by future generations, that we should be talking about how anxious everyone is, that my privilege should not be squandered. That is why I make drawings of my paintings, to reflect these concerns. My work tends to be modestly sized because I want anyone who likes it to be able to live with them. In my drawings, I am fussy whereas my paintings are looser. The crispness of photorealist drawing and expressive painting is a means to result in a suddenness that I share with my viewers.
Recently, I have been making plaster niches in order to make objects of my romanticism and at times immaturity. (I love that they remind me of my sketchbooks when I was a teenager.) It is difficult to restrain my enthusiasm for living and I know that I am fortunate but I feel responsible for making art that reflects an emotional experience of living as a fragile creature that knows it will die.
Jonah Criswell was born in Springfield Missouri and graduated from Kansas City Art Institute in 2005 with a BFA and from Pennsylvania State University in 2008 with a MFA.
He has exhibited in Omaha, Kansas City, St. Louis, New York and Berlin. He currently lives and works in Kansas City Missouri and is an Assistant Professor in the Kansas City Art Institute’s Painting Department.