Brooklyn based conceptual artist Jason Innocent has always used language in his work. His latest offering continues this relationship, focusing on the force of text and color to push through the viewer’s expectations.
These cryptic images appear like messages from a simulated reality. One declares, THE LESSER OF TWO EVIL. Another HOLY SHIT! These stand in broad-shouldered, san-serif text somewhere between meme and placard. The statements almost convey information, perspective, idea. However, they never quite land. They are askew, close enough to the real thing to trick the mind into seeking a complete statement.
They all center on the long tradition of political signage, but rather than advocating a position, the phrases often place the entire political process in question. For example, one reads, THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE 2020.
These crooked, colorful declarations play with the linguistic systems in our brain, holding a sticking power not easily understood.
That play with the use and understanding of words has been a long obsession of Innocents. A child of Haitian descent growing up in Brooklyn, life was a brew of cultures and advertised phrases coming together in bizarre collage. His graffiti work in lower Manhattan cherishes verses from popular songs, writing them in unexpected places like secret messages from a hidden friend. His visual art often brings words and doodles together, scraps of paper from a mind we all share.
The influence of William Burroughs is apparent in these latest works. Words are mixed and cut out at odd angles, heightening their magic powers through decontextualization. Like Burroughs cut-ups, Innocent brings out known phrases, but Innocent frames them as complete in themselves rather than jumbling. Adding in political connotations with a well-earned cynicism dose, they stand as daring, deceptively simple enigmas.