Jackie Tileston

Jackie Tileston's paintings are heterotopic spaces in which recombinant strategies and nomadic thinking create complex images that investigate the contemporary sublime and states of being. 

Tileston (b. Manila, Philippines) has a B.A. from Yale University and an MFA from Indiana University. 

Her work has been featured in solo exhibitions in Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, and Dallas, and group exhibitions at the Contemporary Arts Museum (Houston), Art in General and the Painting Center (New York), and the Delaware Center for Contemporary Art. Tileston is the recipient of the Core Fellowship Residency (1988-90), the Pew Fellowship in the Arts (2004), the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Residency (2005), the Guggenheim Fellowship (2006), and the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award (2011).

Tileston lives and works in Philadelphia, where she teaches at the University of Pennsylvania.

She has an upcoming solo exhibition in November at Zg Gallery in Chicago, and is currently in a group show at Pentimenti Gallery, Philadelphia. 

My work feeds off of a multiplicity of sources which are orchestrated to create a world in which the beautiful, absurd, sacred, and mundane can coexist, an attempt at a "unified field theory" of painting. My paintings feed off of the history of abstraction, physics, traditional eastern imagery, Chinese landscape motifs, digital imaging, and other sources. There is a constant flux between atmospheric and graphic, abstract and figurative, quiet and chaotic forces. I do not find a conflict between meaning and visual opulence, between commercial culture and content, and I often purposefully cultivate an operatic sense of surface and reference. I am interested in the challenges of trying to forge a pictorial landscape in which anything could be included, but that seems to possess its own logic.

A re-reading of Foucault's 1967 Of Other Spaces - Heterotopias essay was a recent inspiration since it perfectly defined the intent of much of my current work - to create paintings in which several different locations or spaces are made to coexist within one space. Ideas about how we construct our realities and selves through language, social structure, geography, and belief feed into this desire to juxtapose sites and images that might themselves be somewhat incompatible. My work as a painter is to knit the world together in a kind of visual globalism. There is both a sense of idealism and anxiety that accompanies this endeavor - the desire to make a multi-layered garden of Eden, and concern about how to make sense of it and reconcile disparities.

My work integrates a range of visual sources into layered paintings that mediate the space between the unseen and material worlds. These paintings float upon a base of Western traditions; the atmospheric scumblings of Turner, the late fields of Monet, the desires of early and mid 20th century abstraction, and finally the liberations made available by postmodernism, when the distinctions between pictorial languages dissolved, scrambled, and blurred. Into this territory swirl flying apsaras from China, Taoist landscapes, floating worlds, the colors of India and tantric raptures, the infinite webs and One World theories of contemporary science, and mediated images. I am interested in visual democracies, nomadic thinking, rearranging hierarchies, and trying to fuse personal expression with shared social and cultural spaces, in full pictorial glory.

Installation view of studio with wall painting, unstretched paintings, misc. works on fabric, May 2017

Installation view of studio with wall painting, unstretched paintings, misc. works on fabric, May 2017

Q&A with Jackie Tileston

Questions by Emily Burns