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Jacob Pfeiffer: Suspension

September 25, 2017

Wisconsin painter Jacob Pfeiffer creates tension between lighthearted wordplay and meticulous realism in his solo exhibition, “Suspensions,” on display from October 6th through October 12th. Works in the show will depict objects that are visually suspended on strings as well as moments that are suspended in time, encouraging the viewer to pause for deeper contemplation of the intended narrative. Pfeiffer’s paintings are named with metaphors that playfully articulate the visual scenario while revealing deeper themes found within the painting. “The titles offer the viewer a glimpse into the narrative of the piece,” says Pfeiffer. “Idioms, puns and wordplay hopefully add another level of enjoyment to the viewing experience.”

In “Scales II,” for example, Pfeiffer paints a single goldfish quietly suspended in water. The fishbowl is placed on a vintage kitchen scale while the eye of the goldfish peers nervously toward the viewer. “Aside from the obvious play on words, I am exploring themes of impermanence and solitude,” explains Pfeiffer. In “Balls,” Pfeiffer paints three plastic bags that are held by strings and filled with various iterations of the title including a football, baseball and gumballs. “The inspiration behind this painting was my exploration of American past times and ways people entertain themselves,” says Pfeiffer. “The objects reference our obsession with sports, pop culture and consumerism.”

Other titles from the show including “Apple Sauce” and “Party Crasher” humorously suggest the deadly outcome of an anticipated moment. The paintings depict bowling balls hovering in midair above a bowl of awaiting apples or an exquisite, untouched birthday cake. Pfeiffer constructs each moment in his studio in order to paint the scenes from life. “In some cases, I suspend objects from strings or build armatures to hold my subject matter in interesting (or impossible) scenarios,” he says.

Pfeiffer’s wit is portrayed with masterful technique as he paints each object with intense detail and a saturated color palette. Pfeiffer juxtaposes subjects with varied shapes and textures to create visually captivating paintings such as “Odd Ball II,” where a decorated candy apple sits next to two unadorned radishes like an overdressed dinner guest. Pfeiffer’s deceptively simple paintings are introspective and intelligent, calling for an initial visceral response and prolonged contemplation.

-Kelly Skeen

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