In his vast and seductive seascapes, Aikman denies the viewer a foothold. There is no jetty or shoreline on which to anchor the gaze. Rather, the viewer is set adrift, borne unto the watery surface of a world governedby the elements, suspended in time and space. These places are non-specific, if not geographically indistinct. Yet, like flying inches above the water across a grey and murky ocean in a dream, there is afamiliarity to them – we know and recognise them instinctively, even if we have never physically visited them.
Atmospheric and meditative, the sheer painterly nature of each work is experienced – not simply seen – denying the viewer the temptation to over-intellectualise them and often rejecting tidy analysis. “I work with the human body in mind”, says Aikman.
Like a tidal cycle that swells and recedes, the audience is drawn in and out of the images, their vastness providing no obvious narrative. Aikman simultaneously creates tension and anticipation about what is about to happen or may have already taken place – is there a storm brewing over these turbulent waters,or are we witnessing the aftermath? Shrouded or obscured futures, the absence of human figures, the flickering of a distant light, the glimpse of distant shore; do they offer hope? Is it the last dying light? Aikman poses questions rather than defining a narrative.
Working intuitively with a limited colour palette, scale and repetition, Aikman produces work that captures the enigma and liminality of an isolated moment, arrested in time. His restricted palette broadens through a vast range of subtle shifts and variations in tone and hue, allowing the eye to drift slowly, uninterrupted, across the canvas – to meditate on the redemptive qualities of the artist’s viridescent spectrum.
Jake Aikman was born in London in 1978 and currently lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa. He obtained his Masters of Fine Arts (specialising in painting) in 2008 from the Michaelis School of Fine Art,University of Cape Town, after completing his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2005. Aikman had his first soloexhibition, This Must Be The Place, in 2006 at Everard Read gallery, Cape Town. Since then, he has presented six solo exhibitions including Echoes in 2009, Proximity in 2011 and At the Quiet Limit in 2013at SMAC Gallery. His solo exhibition Confini Velati/Veiled Boundaries was presented in 2014 in Romefollowing a residency in Trevignano Romano in Italy, which was facilitated by the Centro Luigi Di Sarro. Aikman presented his sixth solo exhibition Haunt, at SMAC Gallery in Johannesburg, earlier in 2017.
In 2009 Aikman exhibited in L’Anima Del Acqua: The Spirit of Water an exhibition presented as part ofthe 53rd Venice Biennale. He was also an invited artist for the 4th Beijing International Art Biennale and exhibited in Paralleli, an official exhibition to the 2nd Sabbionetta Biennale in 2010, and the Olympic FineArts exhibition Creative Cities Collection that was held at the Barbican Centre in London in 2012.
Jake Aikman recently took part in the ArtUnitedUs urban art project, where he painted a striking three- story mural on the side of a building in Kiev, Ukraine. The art project collaborates with communities to raise public awareness of issues around war, aggression, and violence. In 2017 was included in SMACGallery’s presentation at the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair in London.
In March this year (2018) Aikman presented a solo exhibition in Granada, Spain at Suburbia Contemporary Art in the historic centre of the city.
Suburbia presented a series of new works by Aikman at The Others art fair in Turin in November 2018, and a solo booth in occasion of ArteFiera, International Art Fair in Bologna, in February 2019. For the occasion Suburbia published a catalogue of selected recent works by Jake Aikman with an accompanying text by Sean O’Toole.