Jamisen Ogg

Born 1980 | Lives and works in Brooklyn


Jamisen Ogg’s recent trompe l’oeil paintings on linen mimic the industrial patterns embossed in paper towels — those most intimate and ready-for-abjection surfaces. The works are subtle, with restrained pastel marks that evince the Brooklyn–based, Pennsylvania-raised artist’s patient production. The surface of each is rendered to look like it is puckered, folded, and perforated. Grids emerge from Ogg’s compositions almost unwittingly, as though formed by creases caused by use.


The grid, that emblem of Modernism, signals some greater formal and ideological order, and Ogg reminds us that ideology is embedded in all design—even those that are, intentionally so, disposable and forgettable. Rosalind Krauss once described the grid, in its employ in cubism and de Stijil, as representing “a place that was out of reach of everything that went before...everything else was declared to be past.” And isn’t this the very goal of commodification, and perhaps utilitarian design—to dislocate us from the temporality of waste and degradation? To be both delicate and resilient, helpful and functionally invisible?


Ogg brings the eye specifically to the patterns that might otherwise disappear on such objects. They are slightly Arabesque, or they recall a fleur-de-lis or a meander, or even modernist geometries. These patterns might evoke post-modern conversations about appropriation, but they also ask in what ways quotidian aesthetics evoke subjective memories or house personal attachments. In the newest paintings in this series, the depicted paper towels also reference floor patterns the artist has previously incorporated into drawings. With these, he brings the act of looking down, metaphorically and literally, to the work. As one considers anew disposable materials, they might also recognize the aesthetics of baseline architectural support. Towels and flooring alike, the artist seems to say, are as unassuming in their expression as they are integrative to our experience.