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.”