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Jackie Saccoccio uses the canvas as a tool

Jackie Saccoccio uses the canvas as a tool

May 27, 2016 // by MOCA Staff

Jackie Saccoccio employs a highly unusual approach in her paintings; she drags one across another to create explosive effects. In preparation for the opening of Confronting the Canvas: Women of Abstraction, we asked Saccoccio, the first recipient of the Brooke and Hap Stein Emerging Artist Prize, about her work process and the ideas behind her paintings. Saccoccio is attending the exhibition members' preview on June 3.

Jackie Saccoccio Time Smelt b
Installers hang Time (Smelt) (2016) at MOCA Jacksonville in preparation for Confronting the Canvas. The Museum acquired the painting for the Permanent Collection with funds provided by Brooke and Hap Stein in honor of the Stein Prize. Image courtesy of Denise M. Reagan.

Describe your approach to painting.

My approach is improvisational with loose parameters. Working in this manner, the work changes directions frequently, but I like to think it keeps the approach to abstract portraits fresh. For these recent works, I imagine my painting as sculpture and tease out a mass from the two-dimensions.

Physically this manifests by having several canvases on the ground and applying liquid paint that has been thinned with a variety of mediums. I then draw shapes and masses by lifting and manipulating the canvases. Depending on the viscosity of the paint, the flow of individual colors varies. As paint nears an edge, I use the painting edge as a tool to make marks on another canvas. This has been present in the work for some time but is now claiming equal billing to the portrait concentration.

Degree of Tilt from Van Doren Waxter on Vimeo.


How did you develop this unusual approach to abstraction?

With improvisation, everything from emotional states to studio gaffs infiltrate into the surface of the painting. It's important for me to be mindful to shifts, and distinguish between mere distractions. For me, this allows the unconscious leap that I hope happens in every painting to evolve fluidly, whether or not it stems from a cerebral or physical point.

In using one painting as tool for another, it began as a mundane effort to keep dripping paint off the floor, but the ramifications of a painting as the residual from another work, and implementing the canvas as a tool was interesting to ponder. I'm excited for where this will lead me.

Describe your portrait series.

Over the past few years, I've been working on a portrait series of portrait painting.    Renaissance and Mannerist portrait paintings which conveyed something to me, pathos, frivolity, excitement, dread, mass, light, etc., were the first paintings that I used as my muse. I made notes regarding contrast, palette, and background information that I felt helped to convey those attributes formally, referring to the notes at different points in the making of the painting to keep the improvisational practice loosely lassoed. This later expanded to making notes on some favorite paintings by heroes from a variety of time periods. The works in this show reference paintings by Piet Mondrian, Lisa Yuskavage, Marilyn Minter, and [Diego] Velasquez.

Select one painting that will be in MOCA's exhibition and describe it in greater detail.

Portrait (PM Sweep) refers to a painting by Mondrian. Building up of a painting is a series of small and large gestures, and this painting is exemplary of that process. It shows a mixture of alchemical pours of different paints of varied oil consistencies, painted searches of color and passages made by dragging and dripping the side of a wet canvas to create sweeping gestures across the painting. What I particularly like about this painting is its clarity of color, something that Mondrian is obviously the master of.

Describe your color palette.

Like most things in my paintings, the palette is mostly improvisational. I do refer to notes from paintings I admire for initial choices in palette.

Describe your titles. What meaning do they convey?

They refer to the paintings that I am using as a muse, either with a direct reference, as in Profile (Minter Meltdown), or to the strongest emotional attribute that the painting conveyed to me, as in Portrait (Candy), which refers to a Velasquez painting.

Jackie Saccoccio Studio c
Jackie Saccoccio's studio is full of her large-scale paintings. Image courtesy of the artist.

What does “abstraction” mean to you?

Abstraction means non-narrative to me. I usually refer to my works as non-representational, but all those lines seem to only be interesting when they are contradicting one another.

Who, if any, abstract painters have influenced your work?

Though I've been basing recent abstract works on representational and figurative works, abstract painters have paved the way for the liberties I take as second nature when crafting a painting: Helen Frankenthaler, Sigmar Polke, Elizabeth Murray, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko.

How much do these influences or other inspirations guide your painting?


Making these paintings is an intensely physical process-one I often relate to the performance of painting. How do you see your paintings in relation to your own body?

The proportions are relative to my body, my wingspan, my height, what I can lift and reasonably lift. 

Do you see yourself as an action painter or one who is continuing the tradition of Abstraction Expressionism? If so, please explain.

The performative aspect of painting is relevant in my work, and that certainly connects me to action painters, especially while using the canvas as a tool.

Jackie Saccoccio Confronting the Canvas Gallery d
Installers light Jackie Saccoccio's paintings in Confronting the Canvas. Image courtesy of Denise M. Reagan.




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