California artist Jesse Aldana uses the ritual of sunrise and sunset to capture the spirit of the west. Using a hybrid of realist brushwork and an almost surreal absence of humans, Jesse documents residential neighborhoods, main thoroughfares and coastal scenes across the great city of Los Angeles. Reminiscent of Ed Ruscha, Jesse’s work acts as both a record of the current landscape as well as a metaphor for the openness and sense of opportunity that continually draw settlers to the west coast. Jesse says of California, “the sky is an overwhelming presence.” He frames his big sky compositions with narrow palm trees and low-slung buildings at the periphery of the canvas to illustrate the scale of the scene. In doing so, the viewer can begin to appreciate the sentiment of the final frontier. Jesse works from a home studio in Los Angeles using photographs that he takes of the surrounding area as source material. He holds a BA from Brown University and an MFA from The New York Academy of Art. He regularly exhibits at the Beverly Hills Art Show.
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About The Artist
The type of images of sunsets and sunrises in these paintings is familiar to most people, and especially so to those with access to social media, where we share photos of mornings and evenings in far-flung places endlessly. With that in mind there is nothing extraordinary or singular in any such representation, unless it is in the affirmation of a wildly common thread of humanness that the daily events inspire. Perhaps there is something intrinsically moving in the infinitely varied cycle that plays out in the atmosphere and in our apprehension of it.
It is the apprehension of our contextual world that I seek to address with these paintings. In documenting these images I employ a technique that suggests that the shortest distance between two points (your pupil and mine) is best bridged by an economy of brush strokes. In doing so I acknowledge the conceit that the camera eye is objective and therefore able to be readily and widely appropriated. An event does not become history except by its entry into the public record and even then it is not useful unless it is read and interpreted. It may be that in this changeable, ephemeral and esoteric world a document is the most egalitarian agent of faith in humanity that we own.
The paintings shown here were originally inspired some years ago by an El Nino weather pattern that brought a season of dramatic skies to Los Angeles. Over the last year, faced with the pandemic-era stresses of isolation, separation and detachment, and with a limited ability to travel for inspiration, I have found that my “inner eye” has asserted itself in arranging the compositions of my paintings. Now my brushes are guided by imagination as well as photo reference while I draw landscapes to evoke memory and hope.
New York Academy of Art
Master of Fine Arts, 1997
Brown UniversityBachelor of Arts, 1993