Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Mar 3 - Apr 15 2023
When passing by your local fruits and vegetables stand one will mainly focus on the produce that's on display. But behind that obvious focal point, there is the shop owner's creativity, expertise, and hard work in charge of supplying, presenting, offering, and distributing the goods. Sort of similar to that, Peter Jeppson's work features comic-like characters as the goods on display (formed around the same produce in this particular case). And using a similar set of self-developed skills applied through painterly language, he is presenting them for the viewer to consume and enjoy.
The notion that “art is a lie (that makes us realize truth)” is in Jeppson's case almost exclusively fixating on animating insentient and unconscious objects. After casually giving life to pencils and cigarettes in the past, Fresh Fruits and Vegetables reveals a whole new cast of elusively charged characters based on tomatoes, grapes, bananas, paprikas, carrots, and such. And this introduction of a whole new gang of ludicrous heroes is not accidental. Ever since moving away from his illustration background, the Swedish artist has been equally interested in the language of painting and the suggestive power of facial expression. Although he occasionally includes other elements, the interaction and the relationship between the eyes, the nose, and the mouth, quickly became the coreof his work and practice. Working towards conveying that in-between emotion, a state where happiness dissolves into nervousness, curiosity dilutes into fear, or excitement glitches into confusion, Jeppson uses this primeval familiarity to connect with the viewer.
Holding onto the idea, rather than a well-defined cast of characters, Jeppson's practice is fueled by the appreciation for raw, quick, and imperfect drawings and the continuous need for a challenge and change. Eager to keep the raw appearance of the initial sketches and doodles on a bigger scale, he is on a neverending quest of preserving the vibrancy of immediate lines and "happy little accidents". Whether using Vincent Van Gogh-like brushwork and strokes that compensate for the lack of thickness, Philip Guston's bold use of black and sharp shadows, Armen Eloyan's peculiar line-based approach, or fellow countryman Olle Schmidt's cheeky determination to tackle different aspects of the painting under his terms, the resulting work is keeping the steady level of freshness while existing in the same universe as their predecessors. And speaking of freshness, it's the idea of including new elements within the existing visual language that informed the shift towards chunkier, rounder, and squashier forms. Insisting that the overall practice is about attributing human-like qualities to other forms and not the other way around, his everyday commute inspired the shift behind the newest body of paintings and drawings.
After years of working with square or stick-like forms, Jeppson recently switched to the most universally recognizable forms known to man - the often shiny, round shapes of our fruits and vegetables. In a way sabotaging his previous process, the new large color fields required fresh approaches to keeping the surfaces exciting. By mixing other colors into these large passages of solid reds, purples, or oranges, the subject kept their initial messiness and nonconformist appeal, while the background stayed smooth and vague. In combination with the purposefully vibrant and shifty linework, these uneven surfaces convey a sense of volume and depth while staying true to their original, intuitive origins. Through chunks of color applied with brushes of various sizes, illustrative trickery that suggests movement and action, and the occasional use of graffiti-like light flares, Jeppson is confidently stepping way outside of the fine art realm while revealing the subdued theme permeating these works - an hommage to everyday people performing their jobs and using creativity to provide what we take for granted. Like fresh fruits and vegetables, for example.
Text Saša Bogoj