If you’ve been to New York City and walked around any one of the boroughs you’ve probably seen a JerkFace mural and didn’t even realize it. As you passed it you may have felt a slight twinge of nostalgia at the sight of a childhood cartoon hero spray painted with precise repetition across brick, or metal, or cinderblock. About 6 months ago I unwittingly ran across one in the Lower East Side.
At the time, I had no clue who Jerkface was, let alone that he had made this mural. I just saw it and snapped a photo. A visceral reaction to an incredibly simple and interesting piece of art in a city full of such things. Thankfully my brother filled me in and I immediately took a deep dive into this guy’s work. I came away with a serious appreciation for his technique and ability. You can find his art sprawled across doors, brick walls, iron gates, or even a moving truck.
Most Jerkface pieces are created with two distinct ideas in mind. First, he picks from any number of 80s, 90s, and 00s cartoons and pop culture icons. Think Bugs Bunny, Homer Simpson, Muppets, etc. Sometimes combining two together: TMNT + Kermit in the banner photo.
The second is an artistic style called cubism. Cubism was popularized most notably by Picasso in the early 20th century and JerkFace uses it with jarring effectiveness, especially on his large scale murals. Basically, a cubist painting takes a three-dimensional object, breaks it down into geometric shapes and reassembles them in a two dimensional abstract form. Jerkface opts for a slightly more concrete brand of cubism that reimagines pieces of the character or the character’s face or body slightly altered (e.g. extra hands or missing pupils) and splashes them repeatedly across the canvas (or garage door).
Jerkface’s cubist style evidences itself clearly here taking Mickey hands and replicating them across the walls to fill in the outer edges of the mural.
Jerkface marries the two ideas – an early 20th-century artistic style like cubism with late 20th-century pop culture – to give his work an easily recognizable yet distinct and memorable sophistication. He ensures that once you’ve seen one, you can identify all the others with general accuracy even without seeing his tag in the bottom corner of all of his pieces. It’s a simple and clever marketing technique that I find incredibly dope.
Check out some of my favorite Jerkface pieces I’ve found around the internet.
Check out more of the mystery man’s work:
Official website: Jerkface v2