Jay Pingree | Asthetic Studios
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Jay Pingree

“Most of my work is an exercise in overcoming restraint. Restraint is sometimes needed to accurately represent a subject, but I am far more interested in implying forms than clearly defining them. I’d like the viewer to interpret and find things I didn’t necessarily intend, which encourages a more personal reaction to the work.”

At first glance, there is an indistinction in Jay’s paintings that seem to give off a transitory and fleeting experience for the viewer. The figures seem anonymous and ephemeral, and yet still carry a poignant poise and emotionality that makes them seem alive, as if they were captured from snapshots of our everyday lives – glimpses and glances of the ever-changing passerby  in our daily commutes. Jay’s work relies more on implications and interpretations, rather than clarity and definition, alluding to the ephemerality of each moment as it passes by. 

Early Days

Jay’s subject matter focuses primarily on the masses of congestion and fast pace of urban environments – namely  Midtown Manhattan, where Jay spent 17 years working as a concierge at a hotel. But before that, Jay grew up in the suburbs of Grand Rapids, Michigan – an idyllic and safe location that contrasts starkly to the bustling streets of Manhattan.

Jay was born to an engineer and a storyteller, both of  whom impacted his artwork greatly, and realized his penchant for art when they walked in upon a beautiful swirling design he had made with Hersey’s syrup on the kitchen floor when he was a child. They not only helped form the creative and analytic basis for his artwork, but encouraged and fostered his growth as an artist, something he mentions with grateful fondness.

He says, “Both my mom and dad encouraged my art from day one, which I am forever grateful for as this is so important, and more uncommon than not.”

Emerging as an Artist

Although Jay has been painting for much of his life, there came a moment in his 20’s when he placed in a competition and was invited to be a part of a group exhibition in Berlin. At the exhibition, one of his life changing moments came when a collector purchased four of his paintings for a thousand dollars each, which continued to encourage and fuel his desire to paint. After working twenty  three years in the hospitality industry, struggling with the situation, “often miserable in the drudgery and monotony of going to a job I didn’t wholly want to be at," Jay quit his job to became a full time painter.

Those formative years shaped Jay’s artwork, “in the vibrant, kinetic energy of New York City every day, which is endlessly inspiring to [him]”. He says he is “infatuated with the diversity and churning nature of urban life and how it all works, and attempts to convey it in his work”.

Quite noticeably, nearly all of Jay’s works are portraits of snapshots of city life – commuters and crowds of people. They tell a story though their form, or rather lack thereof, of the transience of being alive.

“This last year has been about defining my days as an artist. That is, learning how to both work hard but also to go easy on myself, allowing myself the time and space to grow and develop. And always, to take my work seriously but not take myself too seriously.” 

(A photo of Jay's studio)

The Days Ahead

There is an expression of freedom that comes across in Jay’s work, through the fluidity and motion in each piece, that gives the viewer their own lens of interpretation. Each of the figures seem commonplace and indistinct, but are unique in their own distortion, fading and yet at the same time appearing, as memories often do. Jay refers to his own style as “ Distorted Realism”, and is constantly working on getting looser and freer with is paint, moving away from clean edges and distinct forms.

Jay is  an internationally exhibiting artist, including shows with The Nordic Art Agency, The Soden Collection, ScopeNewYork, Gallery Twentyfour Berlin, and Lana Santorelli New York. Jay’s  upcoming solo show with The Nordic Art Agency in Malmo, Sweden opens in April of 2020.