Originally from Canberra, Jess Cochrane’s artworks reflect the relationship between pop culture and society, focusing on the contradictory and misguided aspects surrounding beauty and feminine standards. Now based in Sydney, her unique art is produced by painting over photographic images, often in large scale.
In her young career, Cochrane has been nominated for the National Graduate Show at PICA in Perth, had solo works exhibited at Brisbane’s Powerhouse Museum, collaborated with Groovin’ The Moo and The Lord Gladstone and had a residency at Stacks Projects.
Ugly, beautiful, artistic or distasteful? Turn modern perceptions of beauty upside-down with the inspired artwork of Jess Cochrane.
HAPPY: What’s your creative space like?
JESS: I actually moved studio spaces recently. I moved from a space in an open warehouse environment to a really nice private room at The Vic in Marrickville. It’s got beautiful natural light, lots of plants and paintings on the walls.
HAPPY: What makes you want to paint each character? Are the characters you paint based on people you know or have encountered, or of society?
JESS: Each portrait subject is someone that I know and have connected with.
HAPPY: Where do you draw your inspiration?
JESS: Predominantly popular culture, beauty and fashion magazines, and the psychological affects these things have on the perception of image. The strength and magic of women is another big influence along with a lot of art theory.
HAPPY: When you’re planning a new piece or series, do you plan around particular themes, or is the end result developed though the process?
JESS: There is always a strong underlying theme within my work regardless of whether or not I choose to focus on one particular area or story within a body of work. I don’t ever plan out the painting element though. Every time I have done that the work becomes too stiff. The most intensive planning within the work is within the composition, colours, and styling in the photographs.
HAPPY: When collaborating are you usually given a brief to work within, or full artistic control?
JESS: There’s always a brief with collaborative works to an extent. It’s always dependent on the collaborator. For Groovin The Moo, we collectively came up with the deliverables for the festival so that we didn’t get too sidetracked or overwhelmed. Projects such as Sunday Walls are a bit looser with a brief. The brief is really about creating something that addresses the space given and is more of a chance to play.
HAPPY: What are the challenges when collaborating?
JESS: I wouldn’t say there are many challenges. It’s more a matter of making sure you have open communication and a good timeline.
HAPPY: Is there a particular emotion or response you aim to evoke with your art?
JESS: I consider my work to be an open invitation to it’s audience to question how we judge and consider women and beauty within our society. The work is about creating a space for a more inclusive conversation about standards within westernised culture.
HAPPY: Favourite gallery or space to visit?
JESS: Dude, this question is so unfair. There are so many, how could I pick just one? I froth White Rabbit Gallery, China Heights, MCA and Good Space just to name a few.
HAPPY: What are some of your other hobbies, vices, and ways you like to spend your time?
JESS: Patting dogs.
HAPPY: What’s up next for Jess Cochrane?
JESS: Up next is a collaborative exhibition with my friend and very talented photographer, Francisco Tavoni at Studio Tropico in Byron Bay on the 18th of February. Maybe I’ll see you there.