'Daydream Believer' by Jeremy Shockley

Bringing a dreamy collection that explores the dichotomy between reality and fantasy to Moosey, Norwich from where he currently resides in Los Angeles, California is Jeremy Shockley (b.1982).

Originally from Travellers Rest, South Carolina, Jeremy Shockley arrived in Norwich to tell us a story; one of magical realism in which the ending will be different in each percipients mind. To Shockley, an artist’s job is to plant a seed – one that can be nurtured and grown without him present. That’s exactly what he has done with ‘Daydream Believer’.

With some of his fondest, earliest memories being drawing on the walls of his family home, Shockley always knew he wanted to be an artist. After studying a BA in psychology and a BFA in painting and photography, he moved to New York to complete work as a psychologist, but almost inevitably journeyed into the art world where he grew and expanded his creative direction. After 10 years, he moved to LA, where he now resides.

The title of this exhibition, taken from the song by The Monkees of the same name, invites us to enter a state of mind that allows us to look beneath reality, not just figuratively, but literally; Shockley teases the underpaintings on his canvases, revealing the blueprints of his paintings – a stark, striking reality lying bare under a crimson sunset that is slipping away or a small skeleton standing in the corner, peeling away a milky blue sky. The paintings begin to unravel a narrative. Apprehensive to create just figurative art, Shockley has channelled his work through the literary techniques of magical realist writers, creating a likeness of the natural word (which is his favourite thing to paint) that is surreal but not quite unbelievable. Not dissimilar to the world inhabited in our dreams or bygone childhood memories, Shockley’s work explores an uncanny environment that feels at once familiar and distant.

Painted in oil on a new, rougher canvas, the work that ‘Daydream Believer’ comprises is experimental and prioritises attention to detail in an imperfect way. Often beginning his paintings with soft strokes of vine charcoal and then allowing the paint to take over, Shockley creates movement in his paintings with brushstrokes to uncover landscapes, oceans and skies. In Shockley’s words, “If you plan something too much, your brain thinks you’ve already done it”. With his trompe l’oeil faces that give the impression of having been brutally ripped into a tranquil slow-moving mid-afternoon sky, Shockley has with seeming nonchalance and incredible detail created a surrealist vision that is demanding to be seen and understood. At once optimistic and pessimistic these faces invite us to look beyond what we may have begun to understand as monotonous; as mundane. That’s what Shockley believes the role of an artist is, he told us. To create “a starting point for thinking about something.” To understand that the surreal and the ordinary are not mutually exclusive but instead can coexist on the same plain of existence. To invite us to peel back and peer beyond the subdued tones that the sky paints us just after the sun sets, to dig underneath the infinite streams of a dusty waterfall, and explore what is resting underneath.

Words by Charlotte Gullick