Richard Jackson, La Grande Jatte (after Georges Seurat), 1992-2010, dimensions: 132” x 198” x 3”

Richard Jackson’s La Grande Jatte (after Georges Seurat) (1992-2010) pushes the boundaries of painting production. In this work, Jackson recreates the late 1880s pointillist masterpiece by Georges Seurat by dipping pellets into paint and firing them from a pellet gun directly at the canvas. Jackson first conceived the idea in 1992 and to this day he still considers this work incomplete. When La Grande Jatte (after Georges Seurat) was exhibited for Jackson’s solo exhibition at the rennie museum in 2010, the artist had already shot over 60,000 paint-dipped pellets. Jackson’s production is arguably more labour-intensive than Seurat’s painting as Jackson’s lengthy process of firing with a riffle requires pin-point accuracy. Jackson claims this painting will never be complete.

La Grande Jatte (after Georges Seurat) (1992-2010) subverts a canonized work in the history of art. Seurat believed in the scientific notion of optical blending that states individual dabs of colour will be unified by the human eye and perceived as a single colour. In contrast to Seurat’s composed gesture, one can imagine Jackson frustratingly firing pellets around the outline of the figures he has drawn on his canvas. Unlike Seurat’s finished painting, viewers will never be able to see the entirety of Jackson’s painting – we are denied in seeing a totality and are only left with a promise. Jackson’s painting is an unseen performance of an attempt to complete a work of art, but the unfinished painting and its laborious process provides viewers a different way of thinking about traditional modes of artistic production. La Grande Jatte (after Georges Seurat) (1992-2010) will most likely remain incompleted, as Jackson is more committed to the idea and process of his painting than a finished product.

Written by Fiorela Argueta