Jay Backstrand

As an artist, what has sustained and been most important to me has been remaining rigorous in pursuit of my vision and conception of art. My paintings and mixed media work consistently explore broad issues of art historical and contemporary concern, and require constant refinement of my skills as an observer, thinker, draughtsman and painter.

My artistic interests grew out of an influential mix during the 1960s, of Bergman and Fellini, Francis Bacon and Rene Magritte, coffee houses and cigarettes, Sontag and Ianesco. Through these influences, I began to mix the real with the unreal, the rational with the irrational, and in artistic terms, the formal with the random. I have always been pulled back and forth between creating something pleasing and something disturbing. The polarity of these conflicts continues to inform my work today.

In the mid 1980s, I was inspired by the writings of Ernest Becker, the cultural anthropologist and Alice Miller, the psychoanalyst. The complex workings of diverse cultural and artistic traditions, intersecting with the creative potential of the human mind are themes that continue to engage me. I draw my ideas from many sources ¬– other artists’ work, photographs.

I am most energized when I am working in large scale, engaged in the demanding physical as well as mental rigor.