Jake Troyli is bold. The colors, shapes, subject matter and scale is all that: bold. At first glance, there is something political and tangentially, very personal. For his latest show, Slow Clap, on view in Chicago at moniquemeloche, scale and color take centerstage, but also a unique storyline of absurdity and performance. As the gallery notes, Troyli "subverts narratives surrounding Black exceptionalism and exploitation, providing his own fresh perspective through humor, and positions the viewers as audience in order to ask important questions around performance for spectators versus performance for self, and who the payoff is actually for." Here is our conversation with the artist.
Evan Pricco: When do you begin working on this series? And what was on top of your mind when you started?
Jake Troyli: In this body of work I’ve been further exploring the idea of the subject, and what it means to be on display. And then, expanding on that, how easy it is for the line between subject and object to blurred. So in this series of paintings I wanted to play with that dynamic, stretching the figure into something less human and more object, like laundry hung out to dry over a line, a tree-like structure to be mounted and climbed, something to be hoisted up or pulled down.
What do the elongated body parts mean to you?
I think about the subjects in my work, usually my self-portraits, as elastic avatars, figures that can be stretched, distorted, and positioned, whether it be self-imposed (which I think of as a kind of metaphor for code-switching), or brought about by secondary forces or figures seeking to control or modify the subject/object to their liking. With this series of paintings I wanted to explore what that could mean in relationship to the body itself. So, like I mentioned before, the subjects bodies have been stretched, extended, and bent into new shapes in these compositions, all as a means to an end. But the question I think I’m asking myself and my viewer is this- once the stretching or the bending starts, where does it end?