Joshua Jenkins is the kind of artist whose life and work make you want to fall in love. He’s half Yankee, half Southerner and all Louisvillian. And there’s something remarkable about Jenkins’ paintings that tell stories of struggle, strife and love in his brushstrokes. The combination of vibrant colors, striking lines, human figures and visceral textures simply stops you in your tracks. A viewer can look at one of his paintings and become lost – fall into the myriad of artistic intricacies created on his canvas.
Jenkins’ work makes you wonder what he was feeling as he created it and contemplate how you’re feeling while experiencing it. You wonder if you’re even close to feeling the same things he was during his raw creation of the work. Turns out, this is exactly what he wants.
“My ultimate goal is to get the viewer to feel something, some type of emotion,” he says. “I feel like, in this day and age with technology, everybody is always on their phone, and your emotions become so stagnant. You don’t feel so much. I guess that’s what I’m trying to do with my art, to evoke feelings through people and get people to stop and stare and look and wonder. You might not necessarily understand the imagery behind the work, but I feel like, especially with my expressive strokes and style that I paint in, the viewer will at least be able to feel the emotions I was feeling at the time when I was painting.”
We acknowledge cave paintings and their importance to art history, so why wouldn’t we acknowledge street artists?
And the last part is exactly what makes his paintings unique – you do feel what Jenkins was feeling, at least a piece of it. There’s something honest and raw on his canvasses. They create an intimacy and a vulnerability that pulls you in and suddenly, whether you want to or not, you are sharing in the ethos of this bearded, blue-eyed bohemian – naked, uncensored, no bullshit.
Jenkins seeks to “bridge the gap between street art and fine art.” He sees street art as offering a younger, fresher view on life – a change that could benefit the world of fine art. He’s inspired by graffiti and sees it as representative of people and life – something with incredible inherent value. If graffiti artists had more time, more materials and didn’t have to finish as quickly as possible for fear of being caught and arrested, their work very likely would be in a gallery setting, Jenkins says.
Unlike graffiti artists, Jenkins enjoys taking his time and bringing his talents and resources of street art into the fine art realm, weaving the energy and essence of one world into the other. “Everybody is an artist,” he says. “Cave artists are very similar to street artists. We acknowledge cave paintings and their importance to art history, so why wouldn’t we acknowledge street artists?”
Jenkins is not the first underdog of the art world seeking to remind the upper echelon that art can be found anywhere. His sentiments echo that of early 20th century Dadaism. Dadaism sought to remind “traditional” art houses and galleries that art can be anywhere and in anything. The quick spread of the movement proved that Dadaism spoke to a strong and growing demographic of artists and art lovers advocating for art in all its forms. It effectively sought to hit a much needed reset button in the art world. A century later, Jenkins is a refreshing continuation of this here in Louisville.
Jenkins has sold his striking works all over the United States and in Mexico. His art has been displayed in New York, Philadelphia, Kentucky, Miami and more. He has been a sponsored artist for Gallopalooza and was the commissioned artist for the public mural on the walls of Nowhere Bar. Jenkins’ work is readily available for purchase through his website at joshuajenkinsart.wordpress.com, and you can follow him on Facebook at facebook.com/joshuajenkinsart.
Check out his work at the Louisville Visual Art Association’s upcoming 2015 Open Studio Tour on November 14 and 15 at 1538 Lytle St. in Portland and in the Open Studio Weekend Group Exhibition at the Cressman Center, 100 E. Main St., November 6-15. There, you can experience the reverberations of time immemorial echoing through the heart of Jenkins’ work and into your own.