Inspired by Jim Henson and Hayao Miyazaki, Painter Jeffrey Beauchamp Captures A Child’s Imagination

The title of Jeffrey Beauchamp’s latest solo show, “Freefall,” is an appropriate fit for the painter’s dreamlike and freewheeling sensibility; Beauchamp’s work has, for more than 40 years, sought to capture the whirling, madcap nature of a child’s imagination. Since the California-based Beauchamp’s early days as a graphic artist and cartoonist, he’s channeled that mischievous energy into such traditional territories as landscape and portraiture, creating recognizable scenes infused with a unique sense of whimsy.

Beauchamp calls what he does “disciplined daydreaming;” he seeks in his paintings (as well as in the music he makes) to “postpone certain aspects of growing up.” Citing influences as divergent as master puppet-maker Jim Henson, anime godfather Hayao Miyazaki, and the Edwardian portrait painter John Singer Sargent, Beauchamp playfully combines historical and contemporary styles of image-making. In “Freefall,” which is currently on view at Seager Gray Gallery, this multiplicity of worldviews is clear—in Frida be You & Me (2014), a photorealistic portrait is superimposed upon wild, impressionistic figures. Meanwhile, paintings such as Longest Truce Ever Created to a Board Game (2014) and Landscape When Her Bread Machine Went Awry (2014) present suggestive scenes in which meticulously rendered elements stand next to broad, chunky swaths of color layered on with brushes and palette knives. 

These sorts of experiments are clear in the larger body of work, as well; with images ranging from the heavily symbolic, as in The Birth of Audubon Venus (2014), to the near-pastoral tableaus of works such as Loch Lomand (2014), the show demonstrates a range of tactics and a strong sense of Beauchamp’s art-historical passions. In the “Resolution de Fleur”series (2014), the artist plays with multiple stylistic perspectives of the same scene, alternately providing images that are crystal-clear and slightly blurred. The result: an object lesson in how even divergent styles are capable of telegraphing Beauchamp’s signature imaginative mood and childlike eye. 

Molly Osberg

Freefall” is on view at Seager Gray Gallery, Mill Valley, CA, Nov. 1–Dec. 7, 2014.

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