LAFAYETTE — Jeromy Young knows how to respect his elders.
Currently on view at the Acadiana Center for the Arts until Nov. 9, his exhibition “Bound Aberration” is clearly old school but with a new attitude.
“It was a tribute to the old masters,” said Young. “I’m more drawn to Old World paintings. I wanted to feel like part of the group.”
His ornately framed still lifes, pastoral scenes and self-portraits — especially his self-portraits — are prime examples.
In one, he is unmistakably garbed in Rembrandt-style attire; in another, he has no attire at all and appears as a classical Greek figure.
“We took a lot of photos. I was 35 when I started the painting,” he said of the riff on Rembrandt. “It was for a demo originally.”
The show represents for Young, now 41, a new direction, easily seen in “Subjective Madness,” the centerpiece of the collection. In it, Young appears as a dramatic 17th-century Baroque nude with a dagger, flanked by a vicious dog. The painting is an allegory — a narrative created with symbols interpreted to reveal hidden meaning. The stone leg is the crumbling foundation he’s fighting to save. The statue of Cupid knocked on its back and staring heavenward represents love of art lost. The dead flowers refer to the artist’s own late blooming. A shadowy equine in the background is actually a Trojan horse, a subtle commentary on modernism and the fact there’s no stopping it. Also appearing is Pictor, a constellation in the Southern Celestial Hemisphere whose name is Latin for “painter.”
The technique of Dutch masters takes skill, and Young’s is apparent — the human form is difficult.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a long time," he said. "It was a statement that had to come out — mostly serious, but with an element of humor. I’m all of the things in the painting, always struggling and asking myself if I’m taking the right direction.
“As soon as you’re bold, you’re vulnerable. There are multimeanings, a lot of frustration in it.”
Young is the owner of Gallery 912 in the Oil Center and considers all his work symbolic with a little bit of narrative. His pastoral paintings are from photo studies, and while some are actual places, others like “The Cow Field” are imagined. “The Poet” is more meditative and contemplative.
“All have symbolism," he said. "For instance, the breaking storm? I kept it pent up.”
Young said he has more paintings planned, more large allegories, too.
"I want to have meaning in my work,” he said.
For curator Jaik Faulk, who joined the AcA staff earlier this year, the exhibition was a deep dive.
“It’s rare to have a painter like Jeromy in the community with such a master of the medium and flexibility,” said Faulk. “I’m a painter, and his usage of the paint is very satisfying on several levels. This is why you come to a museum or gallery. You can see it on your phone, but here it is so much more.”
For now, Young is resigned to being something of an anachronism.
"'Subjective Madness' is the predominant side of myself. That side lives in a world where it’s kicked aside," Young said. "Modern art is more ‘the idea,’ technique is secondary. You can’t stay doing the same thing forever, but, on the other hand, if a lot of people are doing it, it can’t be great. The old masters are superior, you can accomplish a wider range. It’s more timeless, it’s forever. They were striving to be great.
“Why is it I’m drawn to things in the past? An old soul, for sure.”
An exhibition by Jeromy Young
WHERE: Acadiana Center for the Arts, 101 W. Vermilion St., Lafayette
HOURS: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday, through Nov. 9.