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Iris Jaffe’s (b. 1982, New York, NY ) acrylic paintings are a vibrant tapestry of color and culture, drawing inspiration from both art history and contemporary life. By incorporating elements of collage, she creates dynamic compositions that blur the lines between high and low brow culture. Her work is a celebration of aesthetics and the eclectic, where classical motifs and contemporary icons seamlessly coexist.


Similar to the way that hip hop remixes existing tracks with new beats and lyrics, Jaffe’s paintings are a unique amalgamation of art history and popular culture. She skillfully blends iconic imagery from different periods and styles, creating a visual dialogue that is both familiar and fresh. Components such as pixelated graphics, neon color, and renderings of digital drop shadows additionally evidence the artist’s interest in the way that technology affects contemporary aesthetics. Her work furthermore challenges the notion of artistic hierarchy, as she interweaves elements from both modern art and present day media with equal reverence.


Her use of bright, bold colors and whimsical compositions imbue her paintings with a sense of playfulness and energy. Each piece is a collage of visual experiences and cultural references, inviting the viewer to engage with the layers of meaning and interpretation. Jaffe’s work is a testament to the power of remixing, as she reimagines art historical and pop imagery in a way that is at once nostalgic and progressive. In doing so, she transcends traditional boundaries and creates a new visual language that is as timeless as it is of the moment.

Iris Jaffe earned a BA with honors from Brown University and has worked for the contemporary artist Tom Sachs and the contemporary art gallery Ronald Feldman Fine Arts. Her entire oeuvre consists of painting, digital imaging, digital photography, collage, sculpture, drawing, and installation. Her work has been exhibited in New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Brittany, France. She has also been published in Hyperallergic and Whitehot Magazine. The artist currently lives and works in Westchester County, NY. 

Growing up, I used art to explore my visual senses and abilities; and to escape the banalities of everyday life. Over time, it became both a way for me to express myself and to explore my relationship to the world around me. I am half Chinese and half Jewish and Eastern European, and as a child in the 80’s and 90’s, growing up in the suburbs of New York, I was exposed to a diversity of images via the mass media, my school environments, and my home environment. I took pleasure in cutting up the many magazines that I had access to and making large, complex collages for all of my friends. I likewise enjoyed being exposed to Chinese brush painting in Chinese school, as much as I enjoyed learning about Chagall in Hebrew school and a wealth of Western art via my American schooling. I also became accustomed to things being mixed together from different cultures early on, even if it was just in the form of my lunchbox – complete with home-cooked Chinese food, a boxed guava drink, and an American fruit roll up. 


At Brown University, I fell in love with Art History, which had not been offered at the otherwise wonderful public high school that I attended. I started making larger paintings under the direction of my college mentor, Wendy Edwards, who encouraged me to work large and to explore my identity as an artist. I was naturally drawn to making collage inspired paintings and started combining different aesthetic styles together in the work that I did for my final thesis in Visual Art. I used imagery that I loved from Art History, my life, and popular culture to explore my questions about life, the world around me, the human condition, personal identity, and even art itself. 


As a professional artist, my art brain is forever active, seeming to go in a million directions at once. I continue to explore my questions about life and my fascination with people, art history, popular culture, technology, consumerism, and nature through my artwork. My creative process begins with the mass accumulation of images and ideas from a range of everyday sources, including my everyday life experiences and surroundings, my personal history, the Internet, art history books, and consumer culture. I then draw upon these sources when I am ready to work, which directly and indirectly inform the artwork that I make. 


In the past, I’ve produced artwork in a range of media, including oil and acrylic painting, digital imaging, digital photography, collage, assemblage sculpture, drawing, and installation. Art-historically, my artwork is largely inspired by 20th century modern painting, assemblage sculpture, Pop Art, Surrealism, and photorealism. Visually, my work is brightly colored, graphic, often collage based, and sometimes self-referential. I have worked small to large in both two and three dimensional media. 


At present, my work is primarily focused on acrylic painting. In my paintings, I often combine different aesthetic styles together – such as cartoons, images from popular culture, pixelated imagery, abstract painting, illustration, computer icons, imagery associated with Photoshop tools, photo-based imagery, imagery that has been appropriated from art history, etc. Formally, I also think as much about the way that music is remixed today, as I do about the way that artists have used collage as a visual aesthetic in their artwork. Or in other words, I see the way that collage integrates already existing images to create new artwork as being similar to the way that musicians remix already existing songs to create new music. I also think a lot about visual expression and the different styles of depicting subject matter that artists have developed and used over time. For example, cave painting heavily relied upon line drawing, Asian art is also concerned with flatness and flat imagery, western painting has a history of “sculpting” images with light and shadow, contemporary graphic art is often crisp with bold lines, and computer graphics are generally pixelated in one way or another. 


I furthermore believe that we are living in a time that is comparatively characterized by mass media, mass information, and sharing; and I hope that the audience can see and connect to this in my work. Lastly, I hope to give my audience a visually pleasurable experience with the aesthetic choices that I make and to more generally add some “color” to this world. 

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