blackbird spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1


ADAPTATION SYNDROME  |  Painting in Contemporary Image Culture

Jeff McMahon

 Lines, Drag, acrylic on canvas, 8" x 10"
 Gestural Abstraction, acrylic on canvas, 24" x 24"
 Day Ship Sails 2/5, acrylic on canvas, 24" x 30"
 Lines, Pink, acrylic on canvas, 24" x 24"
 Landscape Picture, acrylic on canvas, 16" x 20"
 Shear Baby Blue, acrylic on canvas, 10" x 10"
 Orange Prism, acrylic on canvas, 10" x 31"
 Limbs Winter Dawn, oil and encaustic on canvas, 36" x 18"
 Still Life with Remote Control, oil on canvas, 24" x 30"
 Blue Clouds, oil on canvas, 24" x 22"
 Better 3rd, ink and acrylic on canvas, 18" x 36"
 Visual Arts Center of Richmond
 Courtesy of the artist and Bodybuilder & Sportsman Gallery, Chicago

Jeff McMahon’s “combinations,” composed of multiple painted panels of diverse images, suggest not only the constantly shifting patterns in image culture, but also the source of their fascination and continuity: choice. The artist in Adaptation Syndrome who most neatly employs irony, McMahon elects to reproduce a set of images, but undermines choice through amalgamations in which everything has equal weight.

His work explores the postmodern concept of the “death of the subject”—the loss of individualism—through compound works that “find” the subject reflected simultaneously in fragmented images indicative of varied cultural enterprises.