Paintings by Jeramy Turner
“It is a general principle among social justice movements that in our activism and protest we should not personalize. It is not “so & so” who is ultimately responsible for the crimes committed, but the logic of the system, that compels individuals to go with the current: for example, cutting wages to the bone or go down, in a competitive battle now of global proportions.
Yet, it takes particular human beings to implement the rules. Those who sign the bills that will impoverish entire populations or contaminate seas, forests, the waters that millions will drink are people of flesh and bone, and it is against them that Jeramy Turner turns her anger and contempt, with a relentless visual narrative demonstrating their perversity and inevitable defeat.
Few painters today are so consistent in their denunciation of the power structure as Turner has been. Indeed, all her paintings are moved by a profound sense of justice which translates into a fierce denunciation of the architects of the misery so many experience across the world. In this, Turner shows how creative anger can be. Demos, marches are powerful ways of taking a stand. But there are other, more subtle, but not less damning ways.
At the butt of Turner’s critique are the “little” men with the jackets and ties that run the banks, the stock exchanges, the international agencies and corporations, as well as the economists and psychologists who provide the justifications oiling the gears of the capitalist work machine. I write “little” because this is how Turner likes to paint them — not in their glory but in their defeat, often naked, with flaccid trembling flesh, in postures that reduce them, diminish them, strip them of their power and well demonstrate their fear of retribution.
In this sense Turner’s paintings are beyond satire. While painters like George Grosz come to mind and are certainly an influence on her work, there is an important difference between the two.
Turner is not content with caricaturing and ridiculing; her work is an act of punishment. When viewed all together, the world she has created looks more like Dante’s Inferno than a satirical project. Boulders fall on trembling creatures depicted huddling in mountain crevices as if awaiting the Last Judgment, while arms, hands, limbs emerge from under apocalyptic ruins showing that for some the judgment has already come.
Turner moreover is a feminist, and she never makes the mistake, frequent in Grosz’s paintings, of associating in her denunciations the women whose bodies the bankers, politicians and stock-exchange have the power to buy. Jeramy Turner’s capitalists go to hell on their own, driven and destroyed by an invisible force of nature and at times — a stroke of genius — by a variety of animals: birds, elephants and rhinos, who join in the revolt against them.” From the Preface by Silvia Federici
Paperbound, full color, 9×12 inches, 28pp.