Illustration: Graeme Jukes. The Mechanic's Dilemma (2016)
We live in troubled times, some would say that we have always lived in those troubled times, but the general contemporary consensus does seem to be that these are definitely troubled times.
To most of us trouble is not something that many would see as creatively stimulating. Trouble is to be avoided, and if not avoided, skimmed over as quickly as possible, out the other end, and into the good times.
However, the artist is different. To be clear, they don't necessarily think differently, troubled times are after all troubled times for artist and non-artist alike. But how they deal with turmoil, disconnection, darkness that many may see in the world around them, that is a different matter.
Illustration: Graeme Jukes. Anhedonia (2016)
The artist Graeme Jukes produces complex surreal imagery using the medium of collage. His work brings in visual elements of crushing mechanical compositions of a world beating to an artificial heart, a heart that is ruthless, one that devours the element of human individuality, spitting out in turn souls lost within the confines of the all-encompassing machine, a machine that is often identified with our contemporary world.
Graeme works and reworks his compositions, adding and subtracting imagery, building up a story through traditional cut and paste, as well as digital manipulation. This is an artist that creates a dark world, both of his own perception of what he sees around him, as well as that of his inner imagination, dealing with that combination is a complex balancing act.
Illustration: Graeme Jukes. The Silence of a Clockwork Dream (2016)
All artists, in whatever medium, use creativity as a tool in which to draw out a host of insecurities and nightmares, many originating from early life. They are food for creativity, a rich vein of artistic expression, one that reveals glimpses of the darker complexity of life, the tantalising mirror reflection of the everyday. It is a world we rarely want to admit to, but it is a world that we carry around with us all our lives.
We are creatures that dwell just as much on pain, as we do pleasure. To understand what it is to be human, is to understand that dark side. To ignore it, pretend that it isn't there, to ignore its calls to us, is to deny half of who we are. We dance between the worlds of pleasure and pain, fear and delight. It is a difficult dance to get right, and we often get it wrong, but it is who we are, for better or worse.
Illustration: Graeme Jukes. The Saviour Machine (2016)
The darker side of life, feeds Graeme's work. His long-term darker gestations, the dark waves of endless panics, and fears, are an integral part of his compositions. He says that he draws out his childhood nightmares, nightmares of being trapped in endless nameless corridors, surrounded by hostile machinery, of spying prying eyes, these are built into the artists narratives.
Built onto those early fears, those dark dream scenes, are new scenes of a different world, a world of reality over dream, one that many find themselves in by just looking around them. We live in a world where the individual is so often seen as overridingly nameless, insignificant, little more than human aggregate.
Illustration: Graeme Jukes. Shame (2016)
Graeme sees this world as one that adds to the fears of childhood, a world where indifference, ignorance, intolerance, and hate is gradually disintegrating what it is to be human. He feels that these negative factors are slowly, but surely breaking down the rational, compassionate creature, the humanity in us all, leaving nothing but some memories, and old machinery.
Cementing these two visions together from early childhood to adulthood can be a difficult task to achieve, but Graeme succeeds. He has a deft and steady hand as far as visual story making is concerned. His compositions tell the story as it is, without hiding facts, or being demure, if you are going to tell a story, then tell it well and tell it with strength, and Graeme does that with a great arc of starkness and passion.
More of Graeme's work can be seen at: deviant art. He can also be found on social media at: facebook, flickr, tumblr
Please be aware that all the imagery shown in this article was kindly provided by the artist. Please do not reproduce unless with permission from the said artist. Thanks.
Illustration: Graeme Jukes. There Would Be No Survivors (2016)