Jeff Elrod’s work reflects current trends in painting, in which abstraction and content collide to examine contemporary visual culture. Derived from digital technology, Elrod’s paintings are intentionally low-tech in appearance. Elrod begins by “scribbling” on a computer with a mouse, creating choppy, flat lines and gestures layered on bold fields of color. Arbitrary keystrokes and commands and improvisational movements with the mouse contribute to the accidental feel of the images. The designs are then projected onto the canvas, and after carefully masking the gestural lines with tape, Elrod rolls several layers of color to achieve a flat, manufactured character to the large paintings.
Balancing chaos theory and modernist aesthetics, Elrod’s paintings succinctly convey the possibilities and trappings of technology. Digital technology has become a tool to solve problems, to condense time and to efficiently produce. It has also provided an endless stream of options—one can surf the web for hours on end without a clear goal—and the ends are often surprising and refreshing, challenging and moving. Elrod’s digital paintings restore an idea of freedom in choas, of elegance within accident, and ultimately, of the pleasure of the virtual hand and the abstract image.