First published: Spring 2012
‘Change your own toner, Laura’, snaps an imperious woman to her co-worker as the other woman, eyes wide, recoils from the outburst. For this combination collage-painting by self-taught Jim Bloom, two women are in work attire, obviously for an office setting, but one woman’s attitude is less than civilised and terribly rivalrous over who changes the copier ink, suggesting that either some history exists between the two or somebody is just having a bad day. In any circumstance, why is this emotional flare up a topic for art? It seems more fitting for a soap opera or a made-for-television movie than it is here, on a pristine gallery wall.
Yet this is but one example of any number of artworks by Jim Bloom, a 44-year-old Allentown, PA-born artist who currently lives in San Francisco. Bloom is a storyteller. He sports a spontaneous expressionist language and documents an all too common sense of personal and occasionally not so pleasant interaction among people that work, live or deal with each other under normal circumstances. Utilising somewhat impoverished materials, his paintings and collages are choice mixtures of cardboard, house paint, discarded movie posters, crayons and charcoal. He prefers the roughened corrugated texture of cardboard and the lacy fragility of newspaper to the more durable surface of canvas or linen, but is not averse to using them if they are available or affordable.