Notes from the Underground

A space is defined by its edge, its peripheries. A visual artist knows this. I believe this can be applied to societies as well. To truly know them, one must start at the outside and move inward. That is why I went downtown Tuesday night to meet with Jason, a local fantasy artist who wanted to show me some of his work. I’d met Jason a few times at the Railway Club and I can guarantee you that if you saw Jason, you probably wouldn’t forget him. The same can be said of me and his art.

I like pretty things. I don’t really have a style or a school that I prefer; I just like art the doesn’t suck. I really didn’t know what to expect as I made my way down to Robson to meet Jason. When I enter the apartment, art hangs on every wall. As I turn the corner, my eyes land on a record turntable, always a good sign. As I move into his work space I smile. It looks like my office. Except, instead of the result of an accident between a Staples truck and the Bookmobile, it looks like an art supply store blew up in there. A gracious host, Jason gestures to the walls and invites me to look around. It’s Fantasy Art, very colourful, very dynamic. A lot of his works have very dark backgrounds which cause the brightly coloured subjects to leap from the canvas.

I have seen Fantasy Art before but I have never seen this. What sets Jason’s paintings apart from all other Fantasy work I’ve seen are his subjects. Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I am no fan of Conspiracy Theory. I consider it to be the realm of ‘Merican Hillbillies who possess neither an education nor a clue. I have seen it dramatized on YouTube, debated on Stickam, and bantered about on blogs; what I haven’t seen is it painted.

As Jason gives me the tour, he’s not trying to convince me of anything, he’s just explaining the stories behind his paintings. Ghost-like alien figures oversee the resurrection of Queen Nefertiti in order to usher in a new age for the Illuminati. A muscular and chisled Warlock presides over secret 24/7 ceremonies involving Isis and her son, Horus. One painting vividly shows the sybols of the Knight’s Templar and their Masonic descendants. I don’t believe the stories these paintings depict, but my interest in the images in undeniable. Just as I can find La Pieta to be the most gorgeous carving I have ever seen and not believe in the existence of Christ, I can enjoy the images in Jason’s paintings and not feel threatened by the Trilateral Commission.

Jason has other subjects as well: paintings of nature and animals and a visually stunning depiction of Icarus after the fall adapted from a Drapier painting. What I really didn’t expect was the carvings.

Sitting in a corner of the room is the amazing figure of a past lover, cut beautifully into a life-sized piece of Texada limestone. He shows me a series of smaller pieces that are incredibly intricate for their size. He works in oil, acrylic, stone, silver, and even bronze. The first time I saw Jason at the Railway Club, I knew he had to be an artist. And he most certainly is.

We finish the tour with a smoke on the balcony, looking to the cloud covered North Shore mountains, talking about Avatar. In a polite exchange we both defend our camps. As a visual artist, he raves about its effect on the eye. As a writer, I inform Jason that James Cameron has yet again stolen the story to one of his movies from somebody else. I will see Avatar one day. But not today. Today I venture back out into the rain to see what cool Vanouver thing I can find next. The Na’vi will just have to wait.

You can view a gallery of some of Jason’s pieces on his webpage: Click the image to enter.


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