Marcus Jahmal - Skulls - Interview by Tyler Glenn
Brooklyn-based artist Marcus Jahmal is self-taught while remaining deeply aware of the past, present, and future of art history. Tyler Nicole Glenn speaks with Jahmal to learn more about the inspiration behind his Skulls NFT collection debuting on the Lobus.
While this is Jahmal’s first foray into art on the blockchain, his paintings have been shown across the globe in cities including New York, London, and Paris. While typically working with oil on canvas, figurative exploration is a recurring theme in his work. Drawing from the aesthetics of Phillip Guston, Francis Bacon, and German Expressionist painters, Jahmal creates a fantastical realm that relates anthropomorphic beasts to the distortion of the human form. He has also been deeply inspired by his time working as a video game developer.
Each skull come in seven shapes: Sketchy, Hangry, Cheeky, Stoner, Drunko, Slimey, and Grimey; each is “made” out of a different material, including diamond and kryptonite. Hidden within the blockchain are 10 Sacred Skulls. Each of them is one of a kind and extremely rare! A percentage of the proceeds will be donated to Serving the People.
Tyler: Could you tell me a bit about your project with Lobus?
Marcus: The project we're working on, Skulls, is taking the motif of the skull; an element that’s frequently used in my work, and converting it into a 3D unique object existing on the blockchain. It's about inclusion on all levels. It also serves as an entry token to stay informed of future projects and news about things I have going on digitally and IRL.
Tyler: What inspired you to make the shift from painting to digital work?
Marcus: It's not really a shift. Painting is the core of all that I do artistically. Stemming from my interest in Memento mori and art history, this project is an extension of an idea that was first conceived on the canvas. I grew up with video games. Starting from Nintendo and ending when I worked at a game development company 4mm games doing production when I was 20 years old. This was an eye-opening experience. Getting to be involved in the creation of a game from start to beta to the final. This is when I first became privy to the value of digital objects. I did not think it would come around full circle and that I would be participating this time as an artist releasing my own digital object.
Tyler: Your work implies strong narrative. Could you describe the idea behind your skulls?
Marcus: To me it's not really narrative, it's more anti-narrative, although people may read it that way. Narrative usually has a beginning, middle, and end, and my work is more open-ended. Skulls are something I paint a lot. From Japanese ukiyo-e, seeing Cezanne's skulls in Paris, and visiting the catacombs made up of human skulls. These influences further cemented my interest. I like painting skulls because it forces the viewer to focus on content and not context. I liked the story I heard about Buddhist monks and how they live with a skull in the corner of their room to always remind them of their morality.
Tyler: Not quite a question, but there seems to be something poetic about the fact that you’re a self-taught artist utilizing a medium as experimental as Web3. Do you have any related thoughts regarding how this might develop as an artistic and economical tool?
Marcus: I think being self-taught lent to me jumping into the Web3 world head first. Learning as I go and being experimental, the same way I did with painting. The only difference is now I am working with the team at Lobus who’s more privy in that world. They will help me realize my vision. In terms of it being an economical tool, it's a great way to raise money for important causes and that’s something I plan on doing with this initial drop.
Tyler: How does this project make sense within the larger scheme of your work?
Marcus: I'm not sure that it makes sense. I think over time it will take some kind of shape. It's great for community building. It gives my supporters a bit more than a gallery exhibition and a chance to be a part of my digital community. Other than that, my concerns are in regards to painting and where it’s taking me.
Skulls is a NFT collection created by artist Marcus Jahmal on the Ethereum Blockchain. Inspired by the recurring motifs in Jahmal's paintings. Each Skull correlates with a physical edition of each NFT to be announced at a later date. Skulls will be released in July 29 2022. Click here to sign up for the drop.