Jake Berthot: Interview

Jake Berthot, “Table and Skull” (2011-2012) (all images courtesy of the artist u
Jake Berthot, Table and Skull, 2011-2012 (courtesy of the artist)

Jennifer Samet interviews painter Jake Berthot about his work and career.

Berthot comments: "when I started working with grids. I discovered that every rectangle in the world has this gestalt: vertical and horizontal axes and then tension points that come from those. Through geometry, if I worked and measured, these notches could shift our focal points all over the surface. Through that, a specific kind of void or space would be revealed. It was about a balance between the object and the opening. And it was a way to gradually achieve balance between my two influences: the systemic and the felt... my intentions for the piece determine how I build and shape the grid. A painting cannot exist without presence or gaze. If I’m concerned with presence, I build a shape with a different intention than if I’m concerned with gaze. In each, I work with and combine three different grid systems: ratio, warped, and perspective. I also use and am aware of the tension Cézanne creates through the unseen, but felt, diagonal. I have an idea of what I want to paint, but I begin every painting with the grid. I wouldn’t know how to make it any other way. It is like I’m carving the space out and it is totally systemic. This is how I start everything that I do, whether it’s a skull drawing, a tree, or a landscape. They start in a bare-bones way, and then become increasingly packed."