How much passion can an artist express for God using still life as the genre? A review of oil painter Jeremy Way's recent pieces uncover much about his quiet coastal life on an island in the swampy, South Carolina Lowcountry.
Apples cracking to reveal yolks, chickens rich with fruits - but poor in eggs - and themes of fatherhood permeate this body of work. Dark backdrops, theatrical lighting, bold colors and use of shadow portray the intangible essence of this Christian's love, faith and philosophy. His paintings invite you to witness the physical interpretation of his innermost experiences.
Jeremy's journey as an artist began before he can remember. Born in the city of San Antonio in the late seventies, his family returned to their Lowcountry roots in the early eighties. By the early nineties, his art teachers had discovered his aptitude for art and referred his talent to art programs for youth throughout the region. Jeremy's spiritual life had begun as a child but was going into decline during this period.
After completing Advanced Placement art classes in high school, he attended the School of Visual Arts in New York City and studied figure drawing under surrealist Bert Hasen and french painter Andre Enard, who befriended many famous surrealist artists like Salvador Dali and Max Ernst. Their influence on Jeremy's work is indisputable.
"On top of four years of intense education at SVA, I spent my spare hours studying some of the best art in the history of the world at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and the Frick Collection" Jeremy recalls. "I have fond memories of the museum guards repeatedly warning me to stop getting so close to the paintings... I figured the best way to learn was to be standing at the same proximity as the artist was when he painted. The guards didn't like it - it's a wonder they never threw me out. " Studying the masters in this way led to an increased awareness of light, color, materials and composition. Sir Peter Paul Reubens, Hans Holbein and Jacques Louis David were a few favorites during this time. On vacation in St. Petersburgh, he carefully observed his favorite works of the atomic and religious periods at the Salvador Dali Museum.
After graduation, Jeremy continued his study privately as he became a husband and father. During this period, he had several important experiences that hurled him toward being a full-time artist. Through unpredictable events, he was able to purchase a home with a built-in studio and invested heavily in premium materials from around the globe. He also learned how to use an ancient system of flemish oil painting recently rediscovered by Donald Fels and endorsed by contemporary masters Joseph Sulkowski and Frank Mason. This complex chemistry allows the oil artist to paint thin layers in a vertical position, wet-on-wet with no running or bleeding of colors, thereby achieving a modest-sized, traditional seven layer painting in as little as two days.
Then, a trio of back-to-back family tragedies exposed his need to improve his relationship with his Lord. This led to reflection in his paintings.
Eventually, the urge to share with others became overwhelming. "You could say that the artistic side of my soul had grown like bamboo during that time - it grew underground for many years and one day I awoke to find it had sprung well above my head" he says. The challenge then was to physically represent his invisible experiences. To do this, he uses a unique style of meta-realism that could easily be confused with surrealism. Unlike surrealism, however, Jeremy's work does not originate from carnal, subconscious desires or fears. Rather, it's genesis derives from the super-conscious, a servant attitude, prayer, hope and sobriety. "It's a beautiful thing to represent light pushing the darkness back in a still life that portrays a spiritual transformation in terms of symbolism" he observes.
Some collectors have said the appeal of his work "... originates with the unique style that seems to stretch across multiple art history platforms." Others have said that Jeremy's style is like "a scene where surrealist master Rene Magritte is working under the simultaneous direction of Holbein, Rembrandt and Rubens. His oil paintings demonstrate a high level of competency and creativity not easily attributed to other artists." The paintings are thought-provoking and spiritual in subject matter and craftsmanship.
Jeremy became an exhibiting member of the Beaufort Art Association in 2012. This led to several successful exhibits, including a record-setting sale on the opening night at the 2013 Spring Art Show. His oil paintings quickly became a local buzz and, consequently, he was invited to use a large exhibition space for an extended period at the local branch of the University of South Carolina by curator and retired Georgia Tech professor, Joan Templer. Since his hometown receives hundreds of thousands of tourists each year, his website, jeremyway.com has already had guests from every habitable continent. He participates and donates work each year to "ArtScape Beaufort" which is an annual fundraiser for Lowcountry Montessori School, a charter school that he believes provides children with unequalled empathy skills and the best education for tomorrow's innovators.
Select works are currently available for private viewing by appointment. Go to the contact page.