Jeff Elrod (b. 1966) resides and works between Texas and New York. His paintings are in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis among other institutions.
The genesis of Jeff Elrod’s fascination with technology rests not in the complexity of digital practices but relies on the aesthetic transference and amalgamation between digital and analogue forms of painting and mark making. He divulges that it was a childhood of first-generation electronic games in the 1970s that led to his integrationist use of the digital medium. In the words of the artist, “I had this total feeling of warmth and security looking at a computer screen, as if I was a kid sitting in the basement on a bean bag playing video games with my parents upstairs.”
Elrod has explored the gamut of technological art by experimenting with a range of digital manipulation practices. Using Photoshop and simple vector based programs to generate free-form images, there is much diversity in the manner in which said images are transferred to canvas. By tracing projections with paint brushes or spray cans (an early technique he still uses), to printing with archival inkjet on paper, to using masking tape to emulate the frictionless appearance of mouse-induced brush strokes. The industrial force of the Pop Art painter has evolved one step further to accommodate the 21st Century phenomenon of technology. Yet despite the clinical nature of the form, the artist’s own hand is never far from the details produced, with meticulous care taken to choices of colour, size and composition.
Elrod’s most recent series of works is inspired by Brion Gysin’s so-called dreamachines, moving lightboxes that are “viewed” with the eyes closed. Designed to simulate alpha waves present in the brain during states of relaxation, the user is privy to intricate patterns and symbols behind their closed eyelids. With startling clarity Elrod has echoed these pulsating, hypnagogic arrangements, with the pastel blotches of UV ink subsuming the viewer in fields of hallucinatory colour. It is in these pieces that we see the brilliance of an artist who has progressed beyond the realms of a simple Illustrator screen to something wholly more cerebral.