Jason Stopa, “Roman Garden Arch” (2020), oil on canvas, 28 x 23 inches
Architecture, particularly iron gates and cyclone fencing; a hand-painted wall on which brightly colored paintings are placed; abstract motifs inspired by pop culture and cartoons; solid shapes made of cheery colors, which bring to mind the cutouts of Henri Matisse and a kindergarten playroom full of toys; the paintings of Jonathan Lasker, Nicholas Krushenick, and Patricia Treib; the relationship between the sets and the costumes worn by Catherine Deneuve in the wonderful musical film The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964), directed by Jacques Demy — these are just some of the associations that Jason Stopa’s paintings and environments have conjured up for me over the years. More importantly, when I look at them, the paintings quickly take over and the associations begin to fade into the background, becoming part of the personal and collective buzz that accompanies all things found in culture. They are not about citation or ironic parody.
Stopa’s desire for joy and the belief that painting can deliver this state is sincere. What is interesting about his ambition is that he has been able to mix sophistication and innocence without privileging either one.