Self-taught artist Iyan De Jesus, softens the metallic edge of steampunk with pliant alabaster skin. Each painting is a pastel-hued post-apocalyptic techno-fantasy suffused in color.
Holding court against a background of mechanical complications are nymph-like cyborgs—more human than robot—whose dignified expressions hide stories rooted in mythology, literature, snatches of song, and fleeting moments between lucidity and sleep. To help viewers divine a work’s narrative, De Jesus camouflages elements among a multitude of gears: owls, hearts, snowflakes, gas lamps, and totem poles all serve as subtle bearers of meaning.
The attention to minutiae, obsession with geometric compositions and patterns, cleanliness of lines, and smoothness of surface hark back to De Jesus’s background in architecture and computer-aided design. Unlike formally trained artists who went from canvas to screen, De Jesus started “painting” with a mouse before she shifted to brushes and glazes. The jump from digital to traditional was a rebellion against the ephemeral nature of bits and bytes, as well as a surrender to the soul’s desire to create something lasting.
Each painting demands more than a cursory glance. Those who linger and look will be rewarded by the unexpected lyricism disguised by steampunk’s retro-futuristic tendencies. In between pulleys and wheels lie images that summon the sound of the sea, the slow and steady beat of the human heart.