Jason Lahr (sabbatical - fall 2019)
Associate Professor, Painting
Jason Lahr was born and raised in rural Pennsylvania. He received his M.F.A. in drawing and painting from Penn State University and his B.F.A. in painting from Clarion University. His work is located in private and public collections across the U.S. and Europe. He is represented by Patrick Painter Gallery in Los Angeles, CA.
Lahr’s paintings combine darkly comic texts with appropriated images, creating shifting narratives of working class male identity. The work draws from feminism, narrative theory, contemporary and postmodern fiction, semiotics, and film theory to explore the formation and shaping of masculinity through mass culture. The images are pulled from a wide range of popular and sub-cultural ephemera while the texts are fragments that suggest their excision from a larger story and give the reader/viewer flashbulb glimpses at moments of narrative action. Centering on female characters that occupy positions of authority and male characters who are injured, inept, defeated, or perplexed by their dealings with women, the texts and images form narratives which question the wash of expectations and assumptions we experience and create through popular culture.
Lahr's book Words for Paintings (Stepsister Press, 2010) collects twelve years of texts alongside reproductions of his work and in-progress views from his studio. A second edition is forthcoming in 2019.
His work has been written about by Art F City, NewCity, Beautiful Decay, Nashville Scene, Chicago Magazine, and Bad At Sports among others.
Selected Exhibitions include: Head Glitch (solo), Aron Packer Projects, Chicago, IL; Electric Funeral (solo), The Painting Center, New York, NY; Level Up: Art Inspired by Gaming Culture, Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art, Indianapolis, IN; Digital Culture, Czong Institute of Contemporary Art, Gimpo, South Korea; It Seemed Like A Good Idea at the Time (solo), The Art Galleries at TCU, Ft Worth, TX; 8-Bit Fictions (solo), Zuckerman Museum of Art, Kennesaw, GA; Too Dumb for New York City, Too Ugly For LA (solo), Packer Schopf Gallery, Chicago, IL; DEATHMETALHIPPIEKILLER (solo), Packer Schopf Gallery, Chicago, IL; Tectonic/Tapola/Lahr, SELLOUT Gallery, Minneapolis, MN; Open Source Deathmatch(solo), Soma Gallery, Fort Wayne, IN; Arrested Development, Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, IN; White Male, Packer Schopf Gallery, Chicago, IL; Beastyfeast, Arlington Center for the Arts, Arlington, MA; A Knock at the Door, Cooper Union, New York, NY; Narrative, Cartoon, Zine, Strip Show; Urban Institute for Contemporary Art, Grand Rapids, MI; As Small as Possible, Zg Gallery, Chicago, IL; Riding With Pike (solo), Fugitive Art Center, Nashville, TN; American Eyes, Gallery Eleven50, Atlanta, GA; Culture of Class, Maryland Institute, College of Art, Baltimore, MD.
I know now that it was a “boy thing,” about privileging prowess at the edge of control and having the confidence to let things go all strange… Dave Hickey, Air Guitar
Within my work, I am interested in painting’s potential as a radically contemporary narrative form. Utilizing brief texts that I write and images appropriated from popular and subcultural points of reference, the paintings draw from narrative theory, contemporary and postmodern fiction, semiotics, feminism, and film theory to explore the formation and shaping of working-class masculine identity through mass culture. The work utilizes a wide range of painting languages and culturally derived visual vocabularies to address the issue of gender, and more broadly the expectations and assumptions that are implicit within a socially configured identity bound by class. The visual language of digital culture–derived from video games, early computer imaging, and .jpg glitches–is combined with traditional painting techniques and references to illustration, print media, and graphic design, to create an intertextual network that addresses the articulation of masculinity manifested in Generation X.
I am deeply interested in the impact of technology on the discourse of painting. As a maker of images, I’m struck by the challenges and opportunities presented by our constant immersion in a wash of screen and monitor-based images. Ultimately, I am investigating these questions: What should paintings look like at our present moment? Can paintings compete with the LCD screen? How can the visual language of digital culture be co-opted by the practice of painting? Over the past ten years, I’ve devised techniques that allow me to integrate this visual language into my work by the use of an airbrush and cut vinyl stencils to create 8-bit digital fields, painted areas that appear to be lo-resolution .jpgs, and computer-derived typefaces. My use of these techniques has depended on the integration of technology as a method to produce the work using Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and sign cutting software. The inherent characteristics and possibilities of these programs have impacted my use of color, saturation, and design. The most recent paintings utilize complex shaped panels that have been fabricated with the aid of a large format CNC router. The shapes of the panels are based on the polygons that make up video game image rendering, band logos, and visual artifacts from low-resolution digital images. All of these sources have appeared in my work, but they now also form the exterior edges of the painting substrate as a means of embedding my conceptual content in every level of the painting (images, surface, color, substrate).
B.F.A., Clarion University, Clarion, PA, 1997
M.F.A., School of Visual Arts, Pennsylvania State University, 1999
400 Riley Hall of Art
Notre Dame, IN 46556