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Jamian Juliano-Villani Gets to Work
Can an artist stay inspired day in and day out? Under near constant deadlines for the last four years, painter Jamian Juliano-Villani grapples with the demands of consistently producing new and better work. Her paintings have received widespread attention, including gallery and museum exhibitions, adding to the stresses of growing as an artist. “The main pressure is maintaining integrity and making work that you feel good about,” says the artist, “even under pressure, which is really difficult.”
As a teenager in New Jersey, Juliano-Villani recalls watching artists like Robert Rauschenberg and Frank Stella in the 1973 documentary Painters Painting, which inspired her to move to New York City. After taking on a variety of odd jobs—from overnight diner waitress to gymnastics instructor—her romanticized notion of the city changed, but Juliano-Villani has maintained a relentless dedication to advancing her artwork. “You’re only as good as your last painting,” the artist explains, “so each has got to be better.”
Painting a new work in her Ridgewood, Queens studio, the artist experiments with images from her vast digital image collection in a search for solutions, looking for the right content and composition to achieve a balance between psychological depth and light humor. When she gets stuck, Juliano-Villani calls upon friend, studio neighbor and 2017 Whitney Biennial artist Ajay Kurian for input. “I really want to push the paintings, but I don’t know how yet,” she says, “Hopefully I’ll figure it out and make them something that they aren’t yet.”More information and credits
New York Close Up Series Producer: Nick Ravich. Director: Nick Ravich. Editor: Anna Gustavi. Cinematography: Adam Golfer & Tim Ciavara. Sound: Tim Ciavara. Design & Graphics: Open & Urosh Perisic. Artwork Courtesy: Jamian Juliano-Villani. Music: Blue Dot Sessions. Thanks: Ajay Kurian. © Art21, Inc. 2017. All rights reserved.
New York Close Up is supported, in part, by The Lambent Foundation; public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; VIA Art Fund; and by individual contributors.
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Jamian Juliano-Villani was born in 1987 in Newark, New Jersey, and lives and works in New York. A painter working with sourced images, Juliano-Villani begins her process with visual references from books, magazines, and other print media she has collected since high school. She often projects images of characters from cartoons and comic books onto her canvases, allowing her to build a narrative of disparate layers. Driven by emotion and intuition, and armed with a rough aesthetic and bold palette, Juliano-Villani’s process often results in lengthy, demanding working sessions in her studio.
“The main pressure is maintaining integrity and making work that you feel good about—even under pressure, which is really difficult.”