Jake Fagundo | Contemporary painting feature

Interview D. Foertig
puplished on
January 10, 2021
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Who is Jake Fagundo?

Jake Fugando, is a contemporary artist we were lucky to discover on Instagram . The artist lives and works in Chicago.

He is a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

● How did it all begin?

Some of my earliest memories are of my dad, who’s also a painter, and we would copy each other’s drawings at night before bed.

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The artist Jake Fagundo in Chicago.

One night he would make a drawing and I would copy it, the next night I made a drawing and he would copy it.

I’ve always been in the vicinity of paintings and painters so I suppose all of that must’ve seeped into my subconscious.

“It’s great to be here. It’s great to be anywhere” - Keith Richards
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Everything up to that point had been left unresolved | Oil on canvas, | 23 x 30 cm

When I was younger, I’d go through spurts of taking drawing and painting seriously and then drifting away.

I always seemed to mess up in school, so I was lucky to have been taking painting seriously for a few years when it came time to apply to college and I wasn’t left with much choice (very fortunately) but to pursue an education in fine art.

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Its Rollin Round the Bend | Oil on canvas | 76 x 102 cm

● When do you work best?

When I’m at school, I spend all of my time in my studio. I surprised myself when I found that I work much better early in the morning.

I like showing up before anyone else so I have some quiet time to settle in, drink coffee and meditate a little bit on what I’m going to paint that day and then it’s off to the races.

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I aint seen the sunshine since I don’t know when | Oil on canvas | 61 x 76 cm

When I’m working from home, I’m able to work a little more spontaneously, but I typically find myself painting right before I go to bed.

It’s like a way of getting everything off my chest before resting.

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I love rock n roll | Oil on canvas | 41 x 51 cm

● What inspires you?

Very very rarely do I get inspired by just sitting around. It usually comes while I’m painting. Especially when I’m painting and don’t want to be.

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Girl from the north country | Oil on canvas | 20 x 20 cm

One of the best feelings in the world is starting a painting, not feeling great about anything you’re doing, and then you slowly get more and more interested in what you’re doing.

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Jake Fagundo in his studio | Chicago

When I start the day sluggish and uninspired, that’s usually when I end the day jumping with excitement about painting.

Music has always been inspiring and informative to how I work.

I love cheesy, greatest hits albums and I title most of my paintings after lyrics from said songs.

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Turnin all the nighttime into the day | Oil on canvas | 46 x 61 cm

● Who are your favorite artists?

Right now, I’m obsessed with and devouring Matthew Wong, Katherine Bradford, Tom Thomson, and Alex Katz.

These are all painters who, from the moment I saw their work, said to myself “If I can learn how I’m going to shamelessly paint like them”. I don’t think my work would be anywhere near what it is right now if I hadn’t come into contact with these folks.

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Psycho Killer | Oil on canvas | 121 x 152 cm

● What are your newest projects?

I’ve set up a little workspace in my dining room and have been working on smaller 40.50 cm x 50 cm paintings of landscape scenes by night, that deal mainly with light.

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Rush for a change of atmosphere | Oil on canvas | 61 x 76 cm

This past year, I’ve been really enjoying working quickly, wet into wet.

When using dark colors and painting about light, something really magic can happen with painting wet into wet.

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In the artists studio

● What are you working on currently?

This last year has not only been tumultuous on an exterior level but also on an artistic level for me.

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I get home before daylight | Oil on canvas | 41 x 51 cm

I found my voice as a painter, enjoyed a little bit of commercial success, and then in March, I essentially quit painting.

My studio at school was no longer my place of work and I suddenly stalled out.

Not because of the lack of structure and community that school provides, but because the world outside has suddenly stalled out too.

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The artists work space

I couldn’t figure out why I stopped painting until months later when now I realize that I use painting to reflect upon myself and my relationship with the outside world.

This idea is something we all hear in art school but I guess I never fully got it until now.

“America is really Beautiful. But it would be more beautiful if everybody had enough money to live”. - Andy Warhol

I continued to not paint through July. I realized enough to see that all I needed to do was listen to the world and occupy my time by playing guitar.

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I've got no expectations to pass through here again | Oil on canvas | 122 x 152 cm

In July, some personal events shook me up and changed my life. Shortly after these events, I felt the need to give myself full permission to paint.

It didn’t matter how the work related to the previous work which I thought was “my voice”.

What mattered is that I painted. The imagery was chosen haphazardly; scenes from a road trip I had taken early in May and few views from my back porch.

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Free Jake cake

I needed to work through these images to feel out a whole new approach to painting and image-making.

By doing this, I now see that I gravitated towards light and how it gets portrayed on a 2D surface.

Super short CV:

Jake Fagundo

Born in 1997. Lives and works in Chicago, IL.


The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, BFA, Chicago, IL. - 2017-2021 (Expected)

Image credits:

All images were taken by the artist, except Home studio

Home studio image credit @ Cella Glastris

Exhibitions and shows:

Solo Exhibitions

Martha’s Contemporary, “Exile On Main St.”, Austin, TX

Opens January 23rd, 2021

“Exile On Main St.”. Will be a group of smaller, personal pieces in their garden space.

Selected Group Exhibitions

2021 (Expected) School of the Art Institute of Chicago, “Senior BFA Graduation Show”, Chicago, IL

2020 H.G. Inn, “Collage”, Chicago, IL

2020 Seraphim Dream, “Seraphim Dream 3.0”, Online show.

2020 Lichen Works,  “Ore”, Chicago, IL / Publication.


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A big thank you to Jake for trusting us, and sharing his amazing work on our special artist feature.