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Plumbing the Darkness of Jesse Draxler

Uncovering form and feeling in the artist's new solo show.

Jesse Draxler  has been creating heavily engaging blackscale pieces since his early days in Minneapolis. The Wisconsin native's youth revolved around his work, and he spent most of his time drawing after realizing he lacked interest in or agreement with formal studies. The now-Los Angeles based artist maintains a steady and impressive roster of clients for (The New York Times, Chelsea Wolfe and The Black Queen) and exhibitions of (Doomed Gallery, London, Smashbox Studios and Soze Gallery) his monochromatic explorations.

The obscured overlays and expressive marks that embody Draxler’s work are relatable reflections of repressed subconscious. In constructing, deconstructing and reworking photographs and images, Draxler reveals struggles and surrenders, his work living and breathing with dark hints of existential sexuality. Abstracting and subtracting the human form, Draxler simultaneously masks and uncovers  both form and emotion, body and feeling. His practice resonates with familiar deep-set feelings, and like many working artists, Draxler pulls from his own mental state. His ability to harness and reveal vulnerability, tension, anxiety and heaviness is unbounded as he confronts both what we repress and what we reveal.

The Creators Project caught up with Draxler just before the opening of his newest body of work at Booth Gallery in New York. “For all intents and purposes, it's all new work. None of the work has been shown before, yet some of the work was concepted a while back and executed recently, others were edited, others I have been working on for a long time, others are brand new,” he explains. “In this way it is almost a retrospective of the past 4-5 years of my practice, simmered down and curated so it’s still a cohesive body.” Working purely off of instinct, the work that is going into the exhibition at Booth Gallery maintains Draxler’s uncanny hope in heaviness. He sees no difference between the positive and negative space in his work; as both exist simultaneously, the darkness and the light both give and take from each other.

While many of us are still recovering from Art Basel Miami and the chaos that is the holiday season, Draxler’s output hasn’t seen much of an interruption. “I have about 11 large pieces on wood panels (for Booth Gallery) and about the same number of framed pieces on paper—and one installation/sculptural piece. A total of about 24-25 works I think? I'm headed to set it up early January,” he explains.

Miami also caught a glimpse of Draxler’s work this past December, with a massive two-part piece he created during Art Basel Miami.  “It was my first time out there," Draxel tells us. "I flew in early to make an 8ft by 8ft diptych on wood panels at a gallery in Westwood called SWGR. Bounced before it all kicked off but I watched them building those giant tents for the fairs for hours—I enjoyed that more than I ever would going to the actual events.” Not a bad idea, as it gave Draxler ample time to prepare for his solo show at Booth Gallery just one month later.

Draxler’s show ‘Terror Management’ opens at Manhattan’s Booth Gallery January 9th, 2016. For more information on his work, click here

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