Royal Jarmon Has It All Mapped Out
In times of extreme populist nationalism and the inevitable tropes that follow, it's a refreshing relief when a national symbol is recontextualized in a cleaver, playful manner, without messaging or provocation. Royal Jarmon's most recent works explore a visual template of the country in the form of a map of the United States.
A few weeks back, we visited Royal Jarmon's Brooklyn studio to check out some wicked concepts, including his bizarre amalgamation of geography and art. The fascination goes back to his elementary school days, where he'd sit at his desk outlining the states from a classroom map. Realizing this was one of the rare subjects where he excelled school, Jarmon pursued his signature style of mapmaking as a trick to prove his potential. When the artist picked up an old desk on his way to the studio, he was instantly reminded of this unconventional childhood "skill", and the practice was revived. Mixing painting technique, brushwork and visual language, Jarmon constructs shape-shifting maps that morph into animals and change color or texture.
This approach comes naturally to the self-taught artist who navigated his way through the art world working as an art handler and focusing obsessively on certain themes. Unrestrained by traditional guidelines, Jarmon's ongoing subjects include fire exit still lifes, portraits of submerging Lego men, folded out race cars, and perspective-defying BiC lighters (or DiC in his case), which will soon be released as a limited edition sculpture through Case Studyo. –Sasha Bogojev