Josh Jordan’s work examines how pop culture has informed his identity, both in codes of behavior as well as in ideation. Through the mediums of painting, video, and sculpture Jordan explores the way in which an engagement with pop cultural influences has shaped his psyche. His work combines an elaborate fantasy with poignant autobiographical events.
Jordan’s paintings explore the themes of a childhood and adolescent tendency toward dreams, melodrama, and infatuation. The imagery found in his paintings is an amalgamation of childhood influences; directly referencing blockbuster films and album covers, as well as magazine photo shoots and early music videos. Tension between fantasy and reality is created by combining and remixing the lowbrow, historic, and high art elements with personal photos.
The narrative lens of Jordan’s work is focused on adolescence as a means of exploring the evolving understanding of masculinity, its dilemma of what to engage and what to reject in the role of initiating intimacy, and the conflicted desire for adoration, admiration, social authentication, and meaningful affirmation. It examines the concept of masculinity and flouts its challenges, blind spots, and limitations, perhaps even conveying this perpetual struggle by depicting scenes of absurdity, humor, and chivalrous romanticism.
These themes crystallize in Jordan’s painting The Number One Son. In this painting a theatrical stage is set and bolstered by references to a grade school photo, a classical altarpiece painting, and the comic book-style characters of KISS. The convoluted fantasy of an adolescent unfolds against a classical backdrop painted in a Mannerist style. Light is cast on the centralized figure of an apprehensive child holding a basketball. Exaggerated salacious figures with KISS painted faces are shown in shadow circling underneath this timid heroic figure who looks uncertain and unready to engage.
Taking on the medium of his influence, Jordan has created a trilogy of music videos that chronicle his life. This trilogy binds adolescent allegories with that of a hapless dreamer’s vision for transcendence as an adult, whether it be someone who comes to a large city or new country seeking to fulfill their life’s goal, or anyone living outside of their desired context looking in through the lens of international pop culture, mythology, folklore, and legend for heroic archetypes to identify with. Examples of Jordan’s sculpture, including his JOSH Guitars, JOSH Trophy and JOSH Varsity Jacket, is made with industrial-level craftsmanship. These sculptures also double as stage props for the music videos, which aid in actualizing his projected fantasy.
Jordan’s most recent work focuses more on process of painting and the tradition of German Expressionist and Les Nabis art movements to evoke a sense of dream state. In sum, these images are disembodied stills from unrealized music videos in his mind. Some of them advance a few frames in story, some stand-alone, while others will be strung together in feature length form and soundtrack.
In the age of the Selfie and the creation of the online Alter-Ego, Jordan’s work exemplifies a re-representation of the self. Jordan presents himself as the central protagonist within an expanded narrative to expose his desires and fears, in order to call attention to the fragility of the self. His work expresses earnestness at the inevitable failure to reconcile his childhood dreams and expectations with the challenges and consequences of adulthood.