American, b. 1952
Bits and pieces of nature collected on walks, as well as everyday objects, characterize the subtle surrealism of Jeff Faust. His joy is seeing nature and his interpretation of the world in his paintings. Completely self-taught, Faust studied the art and lives of the masters, uncovering their problem-solving techniques. From years of study, experimentation and self-discovery, Faust’s solo journey as an artist is reflected in the simplicity and balance of his unique style and vision.
He describes his works as visual forms of the written word... with a natural sense of balance, consisting of extraordinary circumstances. Some of his paintings are simple visual poems, while others have the complexity of a short novel that requires contemplation – challenging the observer to consider creation through Faust’s surreal perspective.
If one could view Faust’s entire body of work, curious elements cycle through it and recur in new surroundings. Pristine spheres, eggs, weather beaten feathers, a taut ship’s rope appear and disappear only to emerge some years later. It is as though a thought or character had suddenly re-entered the visual novel he is revealing. Cloth, sticks and ceremonial altars find visual satisfaction with the underlying theme of re-arranging the normal.
The process of painting is, for me, an attempt to integrate elements that reside in my mind into a visual poem. I feel a need to share these ideas in my mind, to make them visible.
I begin a painting with only a general idea of the composition. It might be a bird piece, or a bowl piece, or one of a series done with a common theme – such as the “Journey” pieces. I don’t set up a scene and paint it. I paint mostly from the images in my head, although I have a few objects in my studio that I refer to, such as a feather or an old oar that I picked up one day on the beach. The journey to find the image really begins when I first approach the canvas. I don’t know what the final result will be and it’s sometimes the start of a fleshing-out process that can least for weeks. I have always painted with acrylics. The fact that they dry quickly allows me to make changes. I routinely change the way an objects looks and it’s not unusual for a painting to go through many color changes. Once the piece feels complete, I get deep satisfaction from absorbing it, thinking about it, finding its meaning for me – and hoping that it does the same for others.
There’s a general theme to my work. I paint common objects – mostly found in nature – things that people routinely and unthinkingly pass by. Placing them in a painting creates an opportunity to look at them differently, perhaps more importantly, to see their vitality and presence. I generally show them in a state of movement to demonstrate the fleeting nature of impermanence of life around us. I want my work to cause people to pause and think. I may juxtapose objects in an interesting way, which results in viewers labeling the work surreal. I don’t feel the need to have a label on my work, but I also don’t object to the often-used term subtle surrealism to describe it. It’s also sometimes labeled trompe l’oeil. I’m not trying to paint in this style, but realize that it’s an unintentional result of my attempt at high realism.
I always find it interesting – and curious – that other want to know the meaning of a particular painting. I have two thoughts on that. First, I want the image to speak for itself. Second, what the image means to me isn’t really relevant. I think it’s presumptuous to think that my meaning is important. It’s only important to me. The painting is there for other to pause, to think, to find meaning within the context of their own lives.