American artist Jerrell Gibbs retraces happy memories from his life and childhood for his paintings, often depicting people he’s especially close to.
From barbeques, family gatherings, or nights out with friends, there’s a tenderness to each oil or acrylic on canvas. “I choose to highlight the people who are important to me; ordinary, hardworking, loving people,” Gibbs told Artsy. “They’re real moments. I believe it’s important in an age of social media, where everyone posts about their ‘best’, that all aspects of life should be significant, not just the most extravagant.”
You might think the figures in Gibbs’s paintings are posing, but they still seem carefree. They aren’t concerned with their bodies, and their features are Photoshop-free. They position themselves in ways that don’t feel forced but might point out the natural awkwardness of being human.
In his painting, Uncle Donald, we see Gibb’s uncle with a drink in his hand, leaning on a nearby cabinet, and dressed in his most elegant attire. He might be a quiet man, taking a moment to himself at a busy family gathering. Otherwise, he looks relaxed and happy. When we look at, It’s You, a woman poses as if for the camera, turning her head to one side, looking down and deliberately sticking her leg out from the thigh-high slit of her yellow and black polka dot dress.
Throughout Gibbs’s paintings, you’ll notice a distinctive use of loose lines, giving his whole series a relaxed and playful mood. “What draws me to an illustrative style are my childhood memories of play and drawing,” Gibbs said. “Those were my most free moments, and when I paint, I like to get back to that mental space of play and leisure.”
Uncle Donald, 2020 © Jerrell Gibbs, courtesy of Mariane Ibrahim
The Tea, 2020 © Jerrell Gibbs, courtesy of Mariane Ibrahim
We Out, 2020 © Jerrell Gibbs, courtesy of Mariane Ibrahim
Elamen, 2020 © Jerrell Gibbs, courtesy of Mariane Ibrahim