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Neil Jussila JUS'-il-ah
Montana is the place of his birth, in 1942, in the hard rock mining city of Butte, Montana. It is where, while a student at what was then Montana State College in Bozeman, he found in the spontaneity of a lyrical line, a spiritual presence which led to a lifelong affection for the art of drawing and painting.
In the mix of a background are: selection by the late Dr. David Rosand, Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History, to participate in an NEH seminar on the History of Prints and Drawing at Columbia University, and, chosen by Minimal artist, Robert Morris, to study the meaning of drawing at Atlantic Center for the Arts. From 1993 to 2013 there were 47 juried solo exhibitions and 19 invited one-man shows, and, becoming a Professor Emeritus of Art at Montana State University in Billings, 2013, with a post retirement agreement ending in 2014. An artist in Residence experience in 2015 and 2016 at the Yellowstone Art Museum in Billings led to the scrolls.
It was an epiphany; a discovery; that a line could express a living presence was reinforced in Vietnam which led to thinking about art in terms of the big issues surrounding life, death and morality. A thought reinforced over the years by a scroll once accidentally found and purchased in Tokyo during the war. Becoming a reminder about the ephemeral nature of being and a different perception about the meaning of beauty and art.
The scroll has always emanated an uncanny spiritual feeling which, for him, is timeless. It is as alive today as when first expressed with sweeping bold, black lines accented by patches of white, depicting an early autumn snow on bamboo leaves, which will soon vanish in warmth. Becoming an expression of change and life's seasons. It is a visual poem, which depicts nothing yet says everything. Felt without knowing why. It's about being fully alive in the moment. Magic! Memento mori.
With a feeling; an affinity for this long respected Asian tradition the scroll has become an artistic platform for his work. An application of a modern technology: a high-resolution scanner, plotter and vinyl base has formed a different approach in which selected preparatory and treasured past work (drawings in the form of sketches and paintings) are created without the constraints and restrictions of matting and framing, building crates and storage.
Through enlarging, optimal outcomes emerge. Surprising revelations fortuitously occur which are surprising and pleasurable. For example many pieces show fine details barely visible in the original. Additionally the open-ended setting of the format becomes a meditation on a feeling within. Expressing the mystery of soul so to speak.
The concept, recently technologically realized, began decades ago. The idea of merging ancient and modern techniques has awakened something dormant come fully alive in seeing an unshakeable curiosity finally realized.