Jeff Elrod

Selected Works

Endgame

1994
acrylic on canvas
200.7 x 246.4 cm.; 79 x 97 in.
Photo: Todd White

“He found another source of imagery – new relatively recently, but already looking decrepit – in the arcade video games that he had played growing up. […] The operation of the joystick; the sense of lines moving in space; the continuous-seeming playing field, stretching beyond the borders of the monitor; the blinking objects that appear and disappear; the sense of a convincing, or at least compelling, new kind of space, whose laws appear to be discernible, so long as you kept playing; the bugs, glitches, malfunctions, and errata – for a generation of kids, the game (along with others of its vintage such as Space Invaders and Pong) was a warm-up, a starter kit, for the personal computer that would be coming along soon. […] Elrod's subtractive draughtsmanship lends a new double entendre to the word 'outline' (that is, accentuating the initial 'out', excised, side of the noun). In Endgame (1994) pixelated runes taken from the Atari game Space Invaders start to subvert the Newman look-alike picture to their left.”

T. Hunt, ed., Filter > Distort > Displace, London: Lecturis/Eindhoven, 2014, p. 8-9

Blue Recluse

1997-2016
acrylic on wall
145 x 150 cm.; 57 1/8 x 59 in.
Photo: def image

“Jeff Elrod's Analog Paintings at Texas Gallery are what a young Henri Matisse might have done had he had a Mac computer instead of scissors and paste. In fact, Elrod says, that cut-out and collage look of Matisse's late works is precisely what he loves and went for in creating his new acrylic paintings on canvas and laser-print colour 'drawings'. These computer-derived abstract images (including letters) with their hard edges and flat surfaces feature simple shapes and bold colours. They are a perfectly logical segue to the artist's earlier fascination with supergraphics – those stylized corporate designs of the 1970s. ‘I can't think as fast as I can make the images,’ Elrod says, ‘so I'm not so aware of my hand on a surface. It's like the automatic drawings of the surrealists’.”

P. C. Johnson, ‘Quick, don't miss these art shows’, in Houston Chronicle, vol. 96, no. 189, 1997

Get Off the Internet

2001
acrylic on canvas
Photo: Todd White

“The dimensionless nature of the computer screen pervades Elrod's technique and affects the outcome every time. In Get Off the Internet, a crackling composition of white marks on a black field, awkwardly rhyming letters and impetuous contours arranged in loosely structured horizontal registers proffer a glut of ‘information’, as it is called in reference to cyberspace. The projected, taped, and painted enlargement of the drawing is so mechanically determined that not a hint of painterly embellishment has crept into the nervous glyphs. And yet, if the painting is deeply informed by allegedly impersonal, even depersonalizing technologies, the painter is still evident in his willful denial of easy references. He's painting not information, but rather memes ripped from their informing contexts for the purpose of making good paintings.”

M. Odom, ‘Jeff Elrod – Angstrom Gallery’, in Artforum, vol. 40, no. 2001, pp. 198-199

Soft Machine

2006
acrylic on canvas
157.5 x 203.2 cm.; 62 x 80 in.

“In time, toward the mid-aughts, Elrod began to explore more complex – more layered – ways of generating the space of his paintings. As was the case with FreeHand, the experience of working with, or in, graphic design software proved inspirational. He started by relocating the fundamental ‘space’ of the Photoshop program: the bitmap, the grid of pixels on which all actions are executed. He began to silkscreen the grid onto canvas as a design element, as a ‘backdrop’ for further actions. The pixel-grid, generative ‘ground’ of Photoshop, usually invisible in most images developed in the program, became a visible, pictorial ground in the paintings.”

T. Hunt, ed., Filter > Distort > Displace, London: Lecturis/Eindhoven, 2014, p. 11

Dream Machine (for Brion Gysin)

2009
acrylic on canvas
213.4 x 363.2 cm.; 84 x 143 in.

Dream Machine (for Brion Gysin), 2009 […] was the painting the artist used to speak to the students about automatic drawing. A term usually associated with Surrealism, it has to do with drawing from the subconscious, drawing without thinking or self-editing. This work refers to the stroboscopic flicker device, Dream Machine, that Brion Gysin invented with Ian Somerville. Elrod employs another Brion Gysin discovery of the cut-up technique usually associated with piecing together text. In this painting, however, he cuts and repeats images in panels to present a stunning flicker sensation, like the dream machine, for the viewer to experience as his eyes take in the entire surface of the painting.”

C. Schwartz, ‘Jeff Elrod at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth’, in Art and Seek Online, 17th February 2009

Coral Krylon

2013
acrylic, spray paint and UV ink on Fischer canvas
288.6 x 173 cm.; 113 5/8 x 68 1/8 in.
Photo: Todd White

[On Elrod's show at MoMA PS1: Nobody Sees Like Us, 2013]

“Much to my eyes' chagrin, Elrod's paintings are designed to vex our vision, intentionally arresting the eye at the focal stage. In doing so, he challenges the eye to perform its usual aesthetic duties – look at the image, focus on the image, process the image. Using digital software, he processes his own original drawings into these blurred images that ‘create visual fields that resist coherence.’ Amorphous images that are, by design, incapable of resolution: ‘The space, shapes, and lines from the artist's original drawings are lost and the indeterminate blur that he produces becomes the paintings' dominant aesthetic form.’ In one broad, blurred stroke, Elrod deftly drew my awareness to a very specific aspect of my visual processing machinery by forcing it into a sort of system overload. A heightened awareness for a sense we so often take for granted, especially as we necessarily rely on it to take in and understand visual art.”

M. Zaringhalam,‘[in]focus’, in artlab online, January 2013

13th Floor Elevator

2013
UV ink, spray paint and gesso on Fischer canvas
228.6 x 181 cm.; 90 x 71 1/4 in.
Photo: Todd White

“Scattered about Elrod's studio were sheets of scrap paper bearing random marks of paint. He began scanning these – he thought of them as ‘found’ - and chose one to use as a template. He isolated a section of the found image in Illustrator or Photoshop, drew on “top” of it using his mouse, then sent it to the printer. The printed version, once it was mounted on a support, could then be further worked on by hand.
Elrod calls these works ‘Hybrids’. Their genetics are scrambled. They're both printed paintings and painted printouts. They synthesize different marks, different systems of mark-making, different means of production. They were produced in different kinds of space, and in them different spaces are confused and conflated. The paintings don't disguise their ‘madness’ – you could say they even foreground it – but the marks of their madness are not so easy to decode.[...] 13th Floor Elevator, with its bar-code sticker visible in the lower centre-left, was made the same way, but with the addition of a final, hand-applied layer of spray paint and gesso. The works hybridize – they mix and match – systems of register. The source of the paintings, the found image that started out on the floor, is moved through successive iterations, ending up on the wall. Each painting is visibly layered with the traces of its own production, but sometimes the traces are effaced, dissembled, or simulated. ‘History’ and ‘Actions’ are hard to make out.”

T. Hunt, ed., Filter > Distort > Displace, London: Lecturis/Eindhoven, 2014, p. 1

The Tropics

2015
acrylic and inkjet on canvas
209 x 161 cm.; 82 1/4 x 63 3/8 in.

“Each of the steps in Elrod's methodology is akin to crossing a portal, though the process rarely unfolds in identical paths for each work. The paintings are created using sophisticated programs like Photoshop or Illustrator, altered digitally and printed onto canvas through a painstaking process that ensures every slightest shade of colour and tone remains true to its onscreen appearance. Each canvas may be worked on manually both before and after this elaborate printing process, with accretions, subtractions, or a flurry of applied, white line negative spaces. These latter are practically an Elrod trademark, an impressive dance of non-lines in the form of thin-cut narrow bands of masking tape, which seal off the application of paints to create spectral filaments of non-paint (the mirror image of Pollock's painterly drips). There is no one tried or true method, and the final results rarely betray the painter's process. Here is the ultimate paradox: despite the technical printing prowess that produces these works, each is resolutely unique and unduplicated, due to the inherent vicissitudes of the process of its making. As Elrod goes from one step to the next, the formal qualities of the work – its colours, shape, marks and non-marks – are orchestrated in a careful balance, and what appears random can often be the result of endless trial-and-error.”

J. Pissaro and J. Fraiman, Jeff Elrod: Painting Portals, exh. cat., St. Moritz: Vito Schnabel Gallery, 2017, p.5

Neo-Bro

2015
inkjet and acrylic on canvas
198.5 x 157 cm.; 78 1/8 x 61 3/4 in.
Photo: def image

“Elrod is not exploring the medium as a modernist might have done, but rather is simulating painting as it persists our imagination, with its attendant baggage of gesture, composition, narration, and even genius. On the one hand, there is what we might call a pedagogical intention to reaffirm the idea that painting, and more generally art, is a mental process, and by nature a prolonged one even when the work is composed in one go. But if Elrod were to limit himself to this method, he would become a pedagogue who works through images, a critic who employs maieutics rather than words. Instead, he is an artist; before he addresses the public, […] he addresses the meaning of painting and its making, the search for that eternal alchemy of a sign that is not a sign, a colour that is not colour, a work that consists solely of itself, through its own inner necessity, for which the artist acts as an organising demiurge rather than creator. Thus every new tool available to the artist corresponds to a series of investigations, all with the same goal – to seek, and perhaps find, the
limitations of painting.”

M. Meneguzzo, ‘Jeff Elrod – Galleria Christian Stein’, in Artforum, vol. 55, no.2, 2016, p. 287-288.