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Hidden Agenda - James Jessop -Acrylic & Oil on canvas 2022 .JPG



James Jessop is a graffiti writing obsessive. He’s not “into train graffiti”, it’s his life. His very being. Specifically, the golden years of the New York subway graffiti infancy. Train writers such as Blade, Seen, Dondi and kase2 to name just a few where creating a new art form, and photographers such as Martha Cooper and Henry Chalfont where documenting them in print and film documentaries. It’s this world of invention and underground history that James Jessop focuses on in his subway paintings.  Having studied painting at London’s prestigious Royal College of Art, the works Jessop produces are always tinted with a certain classical edge. By restaging moments in folk law history, often altering them subtly, so he becomes part of the story, James Jessop’s work is a celebration not only of the birth of New York Subway painting and the world wide moment it started, but equally, those who documented it.

Curator and writer Cedar Lewisohn's accompanying text for Jessop's commissioned work  GRAFFITI OBSESSIVE, Artmosphere Biennale Moscow, 2018



My work is a transcription of found materials incorporating classical paintings, as well as 1970’s subway art photographs and images deriving from them. Once selected, I bend and mould into the forms that most appeal to my eye. I play with linking Rubens and De Kooning to tagging/graffiti through the aesthetics of the work creating explosions of energy. I link ideas of the past, present and future, breaking down the hierarchy’s and worshipping each style on an even footing.


A well constructed oil painting and well executed tag are interchangeable to me, as I see the mastery in the flick of the hand on dilapidated brickwork. The remnants of the past imprint their shapes and forms throughout my work: I don’t discriminate! Outside and in the impression of time manifests through the shapes and layering of the human hand and the unstoppable elements. I am attracted to the energy and rebellion of the images I seek out and replicate these in my own form through writing on the street as well as on the canvas.




James Jessop, MK Skate Styles, 2019
















This poem was created in response to the above painting (MK Skate, 2019), as part of the creative writing group at Phoenix Futures, Glasgow 

Poem by David Steven

October 2019

Hey dude, you in the hood!

You wanna scratch on the boards?

Hey pal, you wanna pal? If you don’t that is all.

There's a leopard in the park, just wanting a scratch.

You can see those baseball caps, sliding to the back of my head when we’re skating on the bars.

There’s a man drinking pop, listening to the sounds.

Turning around to my right, I see the wood bear staying tight.

Until a man flies through the air and nearly hits the skinny bear!




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Hidden Agenda - James Jessop -Acrylic & Oil on canvas 2022 .JPG

'GOLDEN SKY' Acrylic & oil on cotton duck. 208 x 208cm, 2023

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