Many folks can’t look at it and not throw up.
Yet without it, you’re dead … OR … you’re one of those hot Louisiana vampires vamping around at night - of course - for your next feast. This is true.
In whatever scenario, be it fear, queasiness or Thanksgiving dinner, there’s no denying it. Life is … in the blood.
I must admit that I don’t get the whole queasiness thing. I’ve donated blood, looked at dripping blood on the ground at murder scenes and have even swallowed the blood from my mistakenly bitten tongue, but I’m not the faint of heart type.
Don’t get me wrong. I’d rather look at a rose than a busted nose. Still, there’s something quite beautiful about it. It’s the reddest that red can get. It’s intense and brutal, yet beautiful. Like I said, without it, you’re as dead as Andy Dick’s career.
Which I guess is why I was so intrigued by … an artist who paints with blood. How diabolical! I’m tempted to say genius, but respectability fears strictly forbid that. Still, when I saw online that New York artist Jordan Eagles www.jordaneagles.com was opening his latest show featuring canvases splattered and concocted with animal blood, I was hooked … in the jugular.
Was this guy serious? Is this a shock value, cry for attention? Rather than let the speculation bleed me dry (sorry), I decided to go straight to the source.
“I wouldn't say that I am obsessed, but I am inspired by the material, at least in the way that I work with it,” Jordan told me in an email. “Yes, it is real blood, cattle blood that I get from a slaughterhouse. I apply the blood with disposable brushes, sponges, paper towels on plexiglass or resin layers, pour, splatter, fill, crackle, heat, burn, move it with hot air, layer the blood with resin at different stages of hardening, age the blood in stages of decomposition for variation in color and texture, grind hardened blood into a powder from with a coffee grinder, mix aged blood with fresh blood to create a thicker textured and darker colored blood, mix the blood with copper and ultimately all the layers of the organic material are fully preserved.”
“Hmm,” I thought, after reading Jordan’s email. It doesn’t sound so bad. Jordan’s work is actually beautiful … in an almost scary kind of way. I would post a picture, but I don’t want you to pass out … at least not until you’re done reading this.
“I think when you see the works in person, it’s clear that the intention is not about shock value, although I do welcome visceral responses as there is something very different about blood than red paint,” said Jordan. “There are certain textures, patterns, luminosity and an essence that comes from the material. I feel the blood emits an energy. It has spirit and that is clear when you are face to face with it. The works themselves become about regeneration, taking and preserving the blood, a life force, of something no longer living and presenting it in a new context. It brings death to back to life.”
Ahhh, now I get it. This is one of those life/death things. But, you know, isn’t that really what blood is all about? While heartless people (and animals) do indeed have blood, you can’t preserve a heart very well without it … unless it’s a pacemaker. But that’s another story.
“You are right,” Jordan added. “Some people have said they felt the works are gruesome, but a lot of viewers also find peace and a certain calm connection in the works. We are clearly all entitled to think what we want. I think since we all have blood running through our veins everyone is going to have a different response to the material.” That is natural. We don't have paint running through our veins. Blood raises a lot of preconceived ideas and these ideas are different than the actual works themselves. I try not judge viewers as I hope I am not judged for working with this medium.”
Cool. By the way reader, don’t get your panties in a bunch. Many artists have worked with blood in the past. We know that, but Jordan, who has a show going on right now at Krause Gallery in New York, thinks his approach is a little different.
“It seems like everything has been done before,” said Jordan. “But I do I think that I am preserving and layering the blood in a unique way. I work with spot lighting to create an intense glow with the blood and its reflections and patterns. I also think that the images themselves work conceptually with the material and the subject matter. In the most recent works, I have been burning the blood and also adding copper. Also, my techniques for aging the blood, grinding it up (it becomes like clay and after it is ground up, it becomes like a powder) and then mixing it back with fresh blood to create new consistency, at the very least, is a new experiment for me. “It’s great for achieving dark fields of black. Also the aged blood behaves differently under resin, it crystallizes differently. It’s quite beautiful.”
There you have it. Didn’t I say it’s in the blood? Jordan told me that he’ll continue to work with the medium as long as he’s inspired by it … which sounds like quite a long time to me.
To find out more about Jordan Eagles, his work and the current show, visit his website at www.jordaneagles.com.