Mixed Media: Yung Jake Comes Home for ‘Twisted Metal III’

Yung Jake's emoji portrait of Gucci Mane.
Yung Jake's emoji portrait of Gucci Mane.

Tripoli Patterson of the Tripoli Gallery in East Hampton features work by his brother, Jake Patterson, known internationally as “Yung Jake.” The rapper and artist exhibits works in a show titled Yung Jake: Twisted Metal III, a solo exhibition featuring a selection of new works from his series on metal.

Motifs have been distorted, manipulated and applied in the form of vinyl wrap to the surface of found scrap metal, resulting in a present-day readymade that embraces both the digital world and conceptual art, while illuminating the overlooked, discarded artifacts of our culture. It will be on view through June 21.

One of Yung Jake's sculptures featured in <i>Twisted Metal III</i>
One of Yung Jake’s sculptures featured in Twisted Metal III

Following Yung Jake’s artistic career is like chasing a moving target—he develops an idea and then switches it up at a pace that only a device-addicted generation can possibly keep up with. In January his emoji-rendered celebrity portraits went viral—capturing the attention of artnews.com, bbcnews.com, theguardian.com, vice.com, people.com, huffingtonpost.com, today.com, mtv.com, even BusinessInsider.com, as well as both print and online editions of Time magazine and Wired.

     RELATED: Yung Jake’s Emoji Art Goes Viral

Yung Jake was born in Sag Harbor to an artistic family—his gallerist brother, Tripoli Patterson, who started a contemporary art gallery in Southampton opened the large East Hampton site last month. Their sister, Matisse Patterson, is also an artist. Jake attended CalArts—the art school founded by Walt Disney that gave rise to a wave of 1970s artist like David Salle, Jack Goldstein, Ross Bleckner and Matt Mullican, under a faculty led by John Baldessari, Michael Asher and Douglas Heubler—Conceptualists from whom a lot of today’s contemporary art can be traced. Yung Jake’s work is conceptual at heart. After all, it is his constant outpouring of ideas that materializes into whatever it is he’s doing—be it paintings on vinyl wrapped around found metal or TV monitor drawings, rap performances or interactive music videos. He clearly knows technology, how to manipulate it and how to make it work for him. If the medium for what he’s striving to express doesn’t exist, he’ll find a way to construct it.

Artist Yung Jake
Artist Yung Jake

Yung Jake gained recognition through his videos “Datamosh” (2011) and “E.m.bed.de/d” (2012)—both premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2013. Type “E.m-bed.de/d,” into your browser and watch it take over your screen. Yung Jake has perhaps given new meaning to “site specific”—the site being the internet—available and attainable to the masses, with certain elements only understood by some.   

Currently living and working in Los Angeles, his music video “Unfollow” premiered at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in 2014, which coincided with a performance streaming his internet content.

In an interview with The Creators Project (part of Vice), he texted, his preferred mode of communication for interviews, “‘Unfollow’ is a music video about being haunted by the shadows of a relationship through the accessibility and abundance of social media. The unfollow button is the only tool we have to move on. Still, the spread of imagery brings us back to the past. ‘Unfollow’ takes us on a journey through our devices showing how hard it is to escape unwanted information.” He performed again in 2014 at MOCA’s Step and Repeat, organized by MOCAtv creative director Emma Reeves and MOCA senior curator Bennett Simpson.

Yung Jake was named “Breakout Art Star” in LA Weekly in 2013 and #4 of “Ten Rappers Who’ve Dipped Their Toes In the Art World’s Water” in The Huffington Post in 2014. Steve Turner Gallery featured his work in two solo exhibitions in 2014—“Drawings,” a new series of computer-generated drawings in a sleek, minimalist display, and “New”—works consisting of reclaimed scrap metal upon which internet content has been attached or printed. One of his found metal works, “Pinar Water with Rusted Metal,” (2014) was recently on display at Tripoli Gallery in Southampton.

While he is currently using the emoji paintbrush tool, emoji.ink, and other technologies. Yung Jake honed his portraiture skills with an old-fashioned, horsehair paintbrush at the Bridgehampton School. As visible in works made prior to his new media endeavors, he is highly skilled as a painter. His vividly colored, expressionistic portraits were first displayed at the Bridgehampton Historical Museum in a show with JoAnne Carter and Michael Butler, which was curated by Stacy Dermont. They captured the attention of well-known curator Klaus Kertess, one of his first collectors, who included him in “The Annual Hamptons Show,” at The Fireplace Project in 2008.

“Jung Jake: Twisted Metal III” at the Tripoli Gallery, 87 Newtown Lane, East Hampton, 631-377-3715, tripoligallery.com. Follow Yung Jake on Instagram, @YUNGJAKE, and Twitter, @YUNGJAKE. For past exhibition views and more information, visit SteveTurner.la and TripoliGallery.com.

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