The slippery space between expressions of physical discomfort and intense pleasure are taken up in New York based painter Jade Thacker’s work. With a background in printmaking, the artist’s diaristic arrangements tackle the manifold experience of womanhood with a compositional balance that brings new figures into focus with each observation. Oftentimes Thacker uses text to interrupt her layered works; these linguistic cues are juxtaposed with pained expressions and forced smiles, placing the viewer into a precariously incompatible space of constant renegotiation. Now open and running until 5 August 2023 at Public Gallery in London, Thacker’s latest series of paintings are included in a trio exhibition alongside works by Nevena Prijic and Evian Wenyi Zhang. To learn more about Thacker’s intriguing practice and the current exhibition, Something Curated drops by the artist’s Brooklyn studio.
Something Curated: Can you give us some insight into your background and journey to art-making?
Jade Thacker: I grew up in Boston, Massachusetts. I’ve been interested in making art from a young age. I was lucky enough to have a mother who encouraged me to explore art as a child. She had a portfolio of drawings from a class she had taken at some point and I was always sneaking into her room to look through them. Looking back on it this was probably formative.
SC: What prompted your move to New York?
JT: In 2014 I had a friend living here with a room for rent and I had just graduated from college in Boston without any particular thing or foundation keeping me there. I didn’t have a specific reason, I just moved really.
SC: Could you expand on the figures you depict in your paintings — what influences their forms and the environments you place them in?
JT: I’m influenced by expressions of physical discomfort and pleasure as well as the masking of physical discomfort and pleasure, and the ambiguity that surrounds these things coexisting. I use forms and environments that speak to this in some way. I’m usually thinking about pairing things to make an image with tension, layering images and interruptions that may not make initial sense together, but to me are very connected.
SC: How do you approach using colour?
JT: I honestly just do what I feel like doing in the moment; I don’t plan too far ahead most of the time. I’m actually most excited by the paintings that have a lot of dark neutrals in them and navigating balancing things off of that. I’m not inherently interested in bright colour – I’m more interested in structure.
SC: What interests you in integrating text into your work?
JT: I think text adds another layer of tension to the work sometimes. Like it can change the way something is interpreted. It can take an image that would otherwise be pleasant or funny and make it something else, something that avoids flat obvious interpretation. It has a transformative ability to subvert any initial expectations.
SC: Can you tell us about the works you’re showing at Public Gallery?
JT: When I was making this particular body of work I had a back injury that left me somewhat incapacitated for about a month. While I was still healing I kept thinking about how weird it is to be navigating an injury while feeling the need to reassure others that you’re going to be fine. Like an aura of odd guilt no one asked for. I thought it was funny. Before this I had already been making work related to discomfort and was interested in exploring the ways that women are very accustomed to the experience of discomfort and pain.
SC: Where are your favourite places to eat in Brooklyn?
JT: I love Saraghina in Bedstuy but one of the best meals I’ve ever had was actually in the city at this spot called Wayla in Lower East Side.
Feature image: Jade Thacker, Mistake, 2023 [Detail]