Born Salina, KS
Andrew Jilka was born in 1986 in a working class home in Salina, KS. He has been employed as a fast food worker, a cigarette warehouse stocker, a furniture deliveryman, a Hewlett-Packard call center representative, a bartender, and later as an artist’s assistant in New York. He enrolled at the University of Kansas where he received a BFA in Printmaking in 2009. His work has been shown in group and solo exhibitions in Kansas City, Omaha, Atlanta, and New York. Jilka is currently lives and works in Brooklyn and is an MFA candidate in Fine Arts at the School of Visual Arts.
My work is about uncertainty and desperation mixed with bouts of hope. It is an attempt to reconcile my aw-shucks plainspoken midwestern Wal-Mart culture with the language of capital P Painting. It comes out of failures and from striving for an intangible and undefinable quality of life. My work is an exploration of painting’s role in contemporary society. I think of it as a distillation of a collective nervousness, anxiety, and optimism. I am asking what painting’s relationship can be to the palpable uneasiness of the present.
I hold painting as approaching the sacrosanct. It can be a manifestation of the optimism needed to simply press on and move forward. But as any old altar boy knows, there is always something just a bit off. Garish colors that should not belong together are married with too-thick impastos applied adjacent to pristine surfaces containing the sparsest amount of pigment. The formal contradictions in my painting mirror the hopefulness that can occur in the uncertain. The work slips between elegance and absurd gestural claptrap. There is an idiot joy to how I build space on the surfaces. Forms are compressed and enclosed, approaching the realm of reality or depiction but never explicitly crossing that line. This language of landscape gives the painting a tenuous relationship to the world outside itself. It reads as though it could have been remembered or misremembered. The surface becomes an “almost place,” a type of tactile pictorial space which exists only in painting and begs to be believed. My work is about looking for comfort in the unfamiliar while confronting the uneasiness and dread in the routine.