Artist Statement

I was taught at a young age to never tell a lie, and “if you didn’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” For an observant and cynical child raised in the conservative, polite South, that doesn’t leave you much to talk about. Art, and specifically painting, became an elaborately veiled outlet to express myself. These paintings can shout my thoughts and feelings without saying exactly what I think and feel.

Life is experienced in community, and to a reserved introvert, that is often overwhelming. I try to keep the world and people safely at arm’s length, an observable distance from which I can interpret and understand the complex and chaotic relationships around me. Life is messy, people are complicated, and I like to build paintings around those interactions. I primarily draw inspiration from friends and family, people with whom I have a close personal connection, and filter our relationship through art history or mythological narratives. From there I layer in religious, cultural, and personal symbolism to construct complex, often ironic and cynical, visual narratives.

I feel a strong need to include figures in my paintings as a point of entry. They become a gateway through which I empathize with the work and maintain the motivation to see a piece through to completion. In the same way, it is important that my paintings are visually seductive, and I've found that figuration and a semblance of realism are effective ways to draw in an audience. The narrative systems in my paintings are composed of many layers of personal symbolism, and, beyond the initial interpretation, they can become very esoteric. Thus, I see the paintings as a kind of visual Trojan horse, sneaking my thoughts into your mind and home.


Jonathan was born in 1990 and grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. After graduating from Providence Christian Academy in 2009 he attended Covenant College for two years. He then transferred to the University of Georgia where in 2014 he earned a Bachelors of Fine Art in Painting. He currently lives and works in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Copyright Jonathan Preg 2014
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