Whether he paints goldfish crackers or salt shakers, Philip Jackson can make seemingly mundane objects look extraordinary on canvas.
“My paintings are like a plea to get people to experience something wonderful again in a very intimate way,” Jackson said.
Jackson, assistant professor of art and contemporary realist painter, was featured in the November 2009 international art publication Art in America. He also was selected by New York City art critic and guest curator Peter Plagens as a featured artist in the Mississippi Museum of Art’s 2009 Mississippi Invitational exhibition.
“There were 100 or so entries that entered this show,” Jackson said. “They picked 10 artists of what [Plagens] thought were the best in Mississippi. It was really nice to be considered as one of the top professional artists in Mississippi.”
Plagens personally visited the studios of each artist that he selected. He wrote a positive review of Jackson’s studio.
“Unsurprisingly, Jackson’s paintings were very clean examples of photorealist vanitas,” Plagens said in his review. (Photorealism is the genre of painting based on making a painting from the use of a photograph. Vanitas is a work of art containing symbols of mortality or the impermanence of material things.)
Jackson always keeps his eye open for subjects to include in his paintings. He keeps a collection of trinkets in his studio that occasionally gives him inspiration. He searches for items that have a “dust-ridden trophy status.” By combining them with unique lighting, color and composition, he turns them into something entirely different and beautiful.
“I want the viewer to really learn how to look again,” Jackson said. “That’s why my paintings are extremely detailed. And most of my paintings are very small so there’s an intimate relationship between the viewer and the painting. They’re not the kind of paintings that you can see from far off—they’re compelling from far off—but the closer you get, the more you realize what’s going on in the painting. There’s more there than you really originally realized.”
Sheri Fleck Rieth, chair and associate professor of art, said that the department is fortunate to have Jackson as a faculty member.
“Philip came to us early in his career, and it has been a pleasure to see him, his family and his artwork grow and prosper,” Rieth said. “When he came to us, the potential in his work was apparent. His work was good then and, oh my, how it has grown, even to appearing in Art in America. The images he makes are skillfully done, beautiful and mysterious, and the color appears to glow from within.”
Jackson is currently working on a new collection of paintings that brings light to the intrinsic beauty of the most common objects.
“Before, I wanted my work to be very whimsical, but now I really want to bring focus to the beauty within each object, which is inherently timeless,” he said.
In addition to being featured in the Mississippi Invitational, Jackson’s work has been displayed in numerous other shows. His art is housed in the permanent collections of the Evansville Museum of Art, Fort Wayne Museum of Art and the West Baden Springs Resort.