By: Ashraf Jamal

Jared Aufrichtig doesn’t stay in one lane; he advances using whatever is at his disposal. For him, art is a fever dream, activism and experimentation. If statement matters, his works possess none of the cocky surety associated with declarative art. While a pop aesthetic is evident, he conveys none of the irony or cool detachment typically associated with the genre. A sepia work, with the words ‘GOOD AFTER SUPER SERIOUS SAUCE BABY’, is, in spirit and execution, antithetical to its textual noise. A paper clip, masking tape, cut-out pencil drawing, overlay a glutinous psychedelic backdrop with none of the trippy colour typically associated with this aesthetic. This is because Aufrichtig operates counter-intuitively – against the grain.

Jared Aufrichtig | Art-Warrior, Art Basel Miami, 2015 (Photo by Artist 2wenty)

In another word-driven Pop-inspired work a boy stands in front of a shuttered metal door, his expression beckoning, his fragility framed by the words ‘IS WATER MORE PRECIOUS THAN GOLD?’ The answer is yes, the question loaded. Here once again activism meets design, with both dimensions adjusted to suit, or better reflect, Aufrichtig’s POV and its inseparable connection to a grassroots counter-cultural vision.

These two strident artworks bounce off against other images which are by no means as clear. Instead, another brace of interests and styles kick into gear, namely, a loose wet mark-making akin to calligraphy, something else that suggests etching, nods to Expressionism, or, again, a latter-day ode to Basquiat in a work titled ‘Mirror Man I’. The title is suggestive. It implies Aufrichtig’s primary strategy – MIMICRY AS SUBVERSION. This because, in echoing pre-existing styles (its impossible in this era of pastiche not to), he sets up an awareness that styles are repeated, but that they can also be repeated differently. We re-mix. In ‘Mirror Man I’ the palette is bold, electrified – pop becomes cybernetic. If it is a self-portrait, then it is a psychic reading. We have many faces; believe we select what we show. But a ‘Mirror Man I’, like a mirror ball, is multifaceted. The ‘I’ is its double, caught in an Infinity Mirror.

Jared Aufrichtig | Samurai Farai Three Wisemen, Painting, 2021

Looking at Jared Aufrichtig’s art, it is this realisation that dominates. His ‘Three Wise Men’ form a single body, his portrait, ‘Bruce Gold’, a monochrome work scoured with achingly loud pink, suggests a mystic – a being fathomless. The three-headed figure, an unholy trinity, performs the replicant realm of ‘Mirror Man I’. We are crowded inside our heads. We have many faces. Duality fails to grasp our radical heterogeneity. However, while Aufrichtig is drawn to Expressionism, he also refuses its intensity. Here lies a paradox: Aufrichtig flattens the world while revealing its inscrutable innards. I’m reminded of Nietzsche’s warning – If you look into the abyss long enough, it will look back at you. It is along this tightrope that Aufrichtig walks.

Jared Aufrichtig | Samurai Farai Three Wisemen, Painting


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