Multi-talented artist Jake Troyli uses humour to discuss race and otherness

Elfie Thomas, It's Nice That, February 17, 2022

Jake Troyli’s stunningly articulated paintings summon the dramatic compositions and technical accuracy of the Northern Renaissance while tackling very contemporary issues: the commodification of the Black/Brown body and the construction of otherness. These disparate elements are woven together by a satirical sense of humour, giving rise to titles like Deposition in Burberry and Plein air painting in the Off-White Jordan. “Access is important to me, and I think the humour and my handling of paint can facilitate that,” the artist tells It’s Nice That. “But more important to me is the potential to be subversive, to draw someone in with something that’s immediately very attractive but is just the surface of a conversation that’s much heavier, and in some cases darker.”


The first time Jake “touched paint” unusually coincided with him winning a full scholarship to play D1 basketball at university. While his scholarship was for sports, he majored in art. “The NCAA likes to pretend that playing a sport doesn’t negatively impact your ability to maximise your education, but it's almost impossible to balance, especially when your major is so hands-on.” Juggling a very practical degree with pressure from basketball meant that he didn’t get a chance to hone his practice until he started applying to grad school. Despite the distractions of his undergrad days, he attributes his experience with basketball as “ integral in terms of the overarching social issues I ruminate on with my work.”


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