In conversation : Jay Golding

Jay Golding creates drawings and paintings that primarily depict human subjects from all walks of life - often in relation to their environment.

Insights of an Eco Artist Team
First of all, tell us a bit about your background and artistic approach.

Well, my background is that I am initially self-taught with fine art training after high school. I majored in Studio Art with a focus on illustration at Kean University and my approach to art is highly representational, focusing mainly on portraits and figurative work.


When did you first realize you wanted to be an artist? What is the first memory you have of this connection?

I would say I first realized this after seeing my growth after my first semester at Kean. It was my Drawing II class and my professor was Mark Romanoski, he helped me to understand the principles of light and shadow in a way that just made so much sense to me. My first connection to art, however, was at the age of 6 while living in Jamaica when I saw my uncle drawing pictures of cars. From that moment I fell in love with drawing.


Asleep at the Garden, Acrylic on wood by Jay Golding. Image courtesy of Jay Golding

After your trip to Ghana in 2019, you adopted the alias Kwame. What does this pseudonym signify? 

Ok so Kwame signifies my connection to my tribal lineage and it came about after I went to a naming ceremony in the Asante state of “Kumasi” on my first day in Ghana. I was actually given the name Kwabena Konadu but later changed it to Kwamena because I felt it was more fitting. In Ghana, Kwabena is a name for a male born on a Tuesday and Kwamena is for a Saturday born, which is the day I was born, hence we have Kwame.


You dedicate your practice to creating works that speak to the “multitude of perspectives that different cultures have to offer”. How do you investigate these themes and incorporate them within your practice?

 

My process of research and investigation ranges from browsing photographs, watching documentaries or videos, and reading articles about the specific groups I am choosing to highlight. My travels and interactions with other cultures also play a role in the process at times which typically leads to me taking my own photos and sometimes doing preliminary sketches before creating my final piece.


Self-Reflecting at Tali's Home, Acrylic on canvas by Jay Golding. Image courtesy of Jay Golding.

One of your most recent works is the acrylic painting “Self-Reflecting at Tali's Home”. What can you tell us about its different stages of creation and motivation? 

This is one of my favorite self-portraits to date! It was actually suggested by my friend Talita. I was house-sitting for her while she was on vacation in Portugal and I would often share photos of my paintings with her, so one day she suggested that I place her large mirror against the refrigerator and paint my portrait beside her plants. The stages of creation lasted about two days and I filmed a timelapse of each day which I enjoyed greatly. This was the first self portrait where I captured my full creative process in this way displaying the entire easel and canvas in the painting.


In terms of aesthetics, throughout your paintings you mix expressionism and realism, to highlight the emotions of the subjects. When did you first start pairing these two methods and why?

I first began experimenting with these two methods during my training days at the University. I was always invested in realism and the human portrait, and after taking a watercolor class I became more interested in portraying the mood of my subjects. I can honestly say that was the start of this pairing for me.


What is the most crucial aspect of your creative process? Which areas do you pay more attention to?

The most crucial aspect of the process for me is the composition. Once I have that figured out, the rest of the painting falls into place for me. I pay the most attention to details, especially in the face area. My favorite area is the eyes because that’s where I can really display the emotion I want, whether subtle or strong.


Abuelita Del Maiz, Acrylic on canvas by Jay Golding. Image courtesy of Jay Golding

What cultures or artists influence your practice both conceptually and visually?

Ghanaian, Ethiopian and Nigerian cultures play a big influence in my practice when it comes to tribal concepts and inspiration. Artists like Frida Kahlo, Caravaggio, Rembrandt and John Singer Sargent or some of my artistic influences as well.


 Can you tell us the story behind the “Abuelita Del Maiz” painting?

Yes. The story behind this painting signifies the connection between the Mayan culture and maize or maíz as it’s pronounced in Spanish. From what I was told, the Mayans believe they are one with maize, which is what the giant corn behind the elder represents in the painting. I used a lot of orange for the foundation of the woman’s skin to portray the feeling of warmth and love of a grandmother. The reference for the woman is from a photograph taken by my friend Rodrigo Maisterra, who I lived with for a few months in Yucatán between January and April. 



Finally, any shows, galleries, or publications where our readers can find your work?  

Yes, I have a Linktree site where readers can click to see a bunch of links to my portfolio, merch, booking, NFTs and more. The link is https://linktr.ee/jaygoldingart




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Every person has a story influenced by their environment, upbringing, and life experiences. I create works that speak to the multitude of perspectives that different cultures have to offer - using acrylic, oil paint, pen/inks, pencils, collage and charcoal mediums to portray and highlight the emotions of friends, relatives, and indigenous/tribal groups.


My paintings and illustrations are often a mix of expressionism and realism. I adopted the alias Kwame in 2019 after my trip to Ghana. The pseudonym is a representation of my inner child, often creating fictional characters that are at times a fusion of various indigenous groups. I do this to create a discourse around the division often seen between tribal groups globally. Though we all may come from different backgrounds and geographical locations, we all share the human experience.

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