Jesse Reno’s Details (repost)

A while back I posted a review I wrote of an opening of paintings by Jesse Reno. This post followed up on that review, so I have moved it from my old blog. Enjoy!

Two Chiefs Conjure Magic by Jesse Reno

Two Chiefs Conjure Magic by Jesse Reno

In mid-September 2012 my girlfriend Heather and I drove to La Jolla CA to see Jesse Reno’s art at the Contemporary Fine Arts Gallery. I was on assignment to review the show, but we went to the reception especially because Reno was there to execute a painting on the spot. I have reposted the review here.

Here I want to show some of the details that make up a Jesse Reno painting. His work is densely layered, as he paints and draws one stage over another. Some of the photos (taken by Heather) are a bit blurry, but they were taken quickly in a roomful of art lovers.

Detail from "Two Chiefs..."

Detail from “Two Chiefs…”

This is a detail from the painting at the top of this entry. Though it is largely concerned with flower images, you can see how heavily worked and reworked it is. Reno is best when he works large, as it allows him plenty of room to build a visual vocabulary. His smaller paintings tend to be confined, and confinement doesn’t suit his waterfall of inspiration.

Another detail

Another detail

Here, in a detail from another painting, we see a phoenix – a common symbol in Reno’s vocabulary – a handprint, and various partially-obscured elements from lower layers. Entire paintings rise and are swallowed up as his work develops. Native American imagery mixes with a more personal symbolism to create its own language. When it works, which isn’t always, the painting draws you in and immerses you in its varied environments.


Here we see a window or a gravestone, both of which signal a transition from one environment into another – typical of Reno to assign two meanings to such a simple shape. The pastel lines overlaying are in this case just lines, though he does add text, which is occasionally garbled or obscured (see below).


And to close out this entry I include another complete painting, this time one of his more successful smaller works, Following Stars to Find Direction, shown below.



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