Jared Betts: I like breaking all the rules

May 2022

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Jared, I am a painter who has exhibited my paintings both nationally and internationally in Tokyo, Paris, London, Ireland, Hamburg, and Iceland. While doing a four-month artist residency in Costa Rica, playing with monkeys, nine-foot boas, geckos, scorpions, I later went on to exhibit at the National Gallery of Costa Rica. I am the founder, executive director, and CEO of Moncton Taco Week, I am a DJ, I also love butterflies, swamp nymphs, nebulas, orchids, fairies, and holographic prism language.

What media do you work in and why?
Acrylic, pastel, eurothane, sparkles – I love reflective surfaces – holographic material is everything – prisms, like sparkle diamonds on the ocean. I find the more media you use the more interesting and complex the piece becomes. It helps to tell a more intricate story about nothing and everything in the universe. Abstract art is spirit work.

 Obviously colour is an important element in your work. How do you build a palette? How do you make the colours ‘hum’? How do you know when it’s ‘finished’?
I’ve been finetuning my palette for the past 20 years. I am drawn to pastel/bright colours because they are exciting, bold energy. I like mixing colors together that typically would clash. I like breaking all the rules to bring compositions and colour combos that have never been seen before. Sometimes I paint really slowly, other times I’m pouring paint directly out of the can or throwing full ink jars at the canvas with precise target practice. I know when it’s finished when the magical fairies tell me to stop working.

Can you pick one of your works in the exhibition, and guide us through it?
I will pick Symbiosis (which just sold), the title show piece [above]. This piece came to me in a dream and is inspired by an endangered Pink Winged Moth Caterpillar. The eye spots are markings on the caterpillar to ward off predators. I usually start out with big bold colourfields and then, like an orchestra, all sorts of elements and mixed media come into play like fireflies on a summer night. I used foam brushes for two reasons: 1) I don’t like washing brushes, and 2) I really enjoy the amount of water that they can soak up. I used oil pastel, inks, and acrylic paint to really bring this piece home for the final layers.

Bioluminescent, by Jared Betts

What artists, not necessarily visual, most influence you?
I’m inspired by Cy Twombly, Rothko, Joan Mitchell, and in nature. The most brilliant artists are deep water plankton, antelopes, butterflies, and moths.

What do you think of this quote: “I’m not an abstractionist. I’m not interested in the relationship of colour or form or anything else. I’m interested only in expressing basic human emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on.”
― Mark Rothko
I think that Mark Rothko was able to tap into the spirit dimension. He’s one of my favorite artists. I always appreciated his work, but it wasn’t until I was in Germany and New York that I was able to stand in front of it and feel the power of his layering and colour choices. Specifically this quote, and so many other artists of that time contradicted themselves too, often with these overly wordy bold statements. It’s clearly obvious he did care about abstraction, colour, and form because that is almost completely what brings the power of his – tragedy, ecstasy, doom and so on. Abstract art is about everything and nothing and to answer your quote with a quote – Gerard Richter: “To talk about paintings is not only difficult but perhaps pointless too.” But then we have to talk about it to better understand some of the process, but with talking so much about something purely about emotion and abstract we will contradict and over-dissect … but I love it. I think Rothko was purely genius, but obviously a poetically tortured soul, like too many legendary artists of that time.

Symbiosis, with works from Betts and Kristina Søbstad, is currently on display at Christina Parker Gallery. An interview with Søbstad will be posted next week.

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