After Jon Sarkin had a stroke while playing golf in 1998, doctors removed part of his cerebellum in order to save his life. His world has changed dramatically since then, due in part to an emergent impulse to create artwork. His work cannot escape the story behind it, and the viewer cannot resist the desire to somehow “decode” some deeper significance, if not meaning.
Outsider art is about the inside, we suppose. Since it’s not informed by tradition, because it emerges as sometimes uncontrollable activity, because the artist doesn’t seem to be fully conscious of his motivation, and due to it’s almost childish innocence, this category (parallel to the canon) threatens to hold a mirror of truth. It’s very being, that inevitability, seems to mock the psycho-analytic attempts of a more conscientious conscious artistic impulse (from action painting to abstract expressionism and even minimalism) not to mention the well trod paths of painting as explanation and figuration. In Sarkins work, however, he executes another level of referential redirection: his explicit textual and iconic references to art historical figures and cultural relics create nonsense and pattern without forming content. As he says, “Most people are looking for a coherent pattern to something. They like things to make sense. So do I. But you know what? Too bad.”
From A collection of written work by Jon Sarkin
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I’VE FELT MY DAMP SWEATY HOT SKIN CRAWLIN
i’ve felt my damp sweaty hot skin crawlin like a dyin snake on its swoled-up belly down th deserted boulevard of my brokendown dreams on th outskirts of this dry dusty dirty desolate desert town, yeah, felt my skin crawl down that same damn boulevard, haphazardly littered with discarded boardedup liquorstores in this godforsaken pockmarked town, pocked by unemployment, pocked by th slackjawed faces of hatchedfaced drugpushers, pocked by onlookers, pocked by our lost visions, pocked by th blue spark of her soul. hell, fer what its worth ta me now, which AIN’T a whole helluva lot, mister, now that i’ve foundered badly again and again and again and again and again, literally PRAYING ILLITERALY ta agamenon in th christianscience readingroom after dusk, after dark, after DAWN FER CHRISSAKE, where th driving wheels at, where MY PRAYER WHEELS AT, where them wheels of industry is at, i call th emperors bluff and take no prisoners, fer i wail like the wailin wind as i badly founder on th moor of my bitter discontent, hollowly satisfied that i DID MY BEST. yeah, right! thats a laugh — did my best. well, better’n YOU, anyway, huh? and now that i’m resurrected by th dyin tuber of night, i lose myself in th infinite morass of broken mirrors, dimly lit in th dyin limelight by my misplaced tears, and as that brine finds its way into th creases of my mask, i see th soiled faces of off-duty clowns, diggin dirty lint outa their dirty fingernails with a dirty icepick. they live in lastleg trailers, rusty despite rustoleum. th trailers, well, they’re beyhond carin, th clowns beyond care.