Jeremy Geddes: Silent Explosions

Silent Explosions

Text by Hillary Teichman
July 18, 2014
Imagine a world where buildings explode into clouds of debris without warning, where people are thrown from their beds through brick walls and glass windows, where faceless spacemen soundlessly invade the deserted ends of city streets. Welcome to Jeremy Geddes’ world of hyperrealistic surrealism. Splintering blasts and zero-gravity fight scenes might be old hat in this age of special effects, but Geddes has found a way to make them new again. With the soft light and muted colors in his highly detailed paintings, he silences the chaos, and the quiet dreamscapes of his cosmonaut-inhabited world emerge from the smog and dust.

Melbourne-raised and trained, Jeremy Geddes has made a name for himself. Limited edition prints of new paintings sell out as soon as they are for sale, and ship to a loyal fan base across the globe. Intriguing from a distance away, it’s when you get up close to his paintings that the genius in his details really shows. He has a knack for making beautiful the ugly parts of urban living we would otherwise ignore: the smoky sky and caked-on grime, the creepy alleyways you don’t even walk through on the brightest day, the fat, ratty pigeons–I still wouldn’t want to pet one, but I’m closer to it when I’m looking at his sleepy-eyed birds (doubtless it is the finest the infernal fowl will ever look). And yet, when you ask about his training and technique, the graduate of the Victorian College of Arts in Melbourne says he's mostly self-taught, having not picked up much of anything from what he calls “the bullshit art school” world, and not feeling much inclination to leave his studio and look at the art community around him. He doesn’t tend to look for the meaning in art as he might have been taught in art school, and doesn’t try put too much of his own meaning behind his paintings—he likes to leave the creation of meaning to his viewers, not just for the individual experience, but also because painting is just “really fucking hard to express your ideas adequately with.” Rather, he hopes his viewers look at the development of his technique and brushstrokes as they’ve improved from piece to piece.

One thing Geddes never tries for is a feeling of being finished with a painting. Satisfaction, he believes, is an unhappy state of mind that doesn’t allow any sort of improvement–he much prefers the dissatisfaction that tells him his work is done. In a way this unsettled feeling translates into Geddes’ paintings; the silent explosions and the desolate city, swirling balls of bodies and hair, and those expressionless moon-men leave that disquieting feeling that remains long after the paintings have floated away from view.