Local artist separates desire & necessity

Jeremy Mulder’s kaleidoscopic exhibit contrasts old and new work, perspectives on life

Wants and Needs incorporates work from Jeremy Mulder’s last exhibition, Lofty Views.
Wants and Needs incorporates work from Jeremy Mulder’s last exhibition, Lofty Views.

Chaotic in its energy, vivid in its colours, and overwhelming in its visual breadth, Jeremy Mulder’s
Wants and Needs is an optical feast—a visceral and reactive exhibit with a kaleidoscopic perception.

Contrasting his older and newer paintings, the display weaves a story of gradual maturity, drawing the viewer in to experience everything from morning routines to an immensely personal self-portrait.
“It’s the juxtaposition of myself three or four years ago—not having a grand perspective on things—and myself now, in a relationship, and with a slightly altered perspective on life,” Mulder said as he scribbled on his newspaper over coffee.

Mulder, a local artist comfortably settled in Kingston, was last exhibited in his Lofty Views showcase at The Artel. As someone who has been consistently involved in the arts community, he expresses a keen interest in fostering the growth of artistic appreciation in Kingston.

“There’s a lot of cameraderie [in the Kingston arts scene], yet it’s hard. There’s not a huge outcry for art in Kingston.
“There can be a lot of rejection and disappointment when it comes to sales and response.” Yet the relatively limited artistic appreciation in Kingston won’t hinder this artist’s excitement with the intentions of his new exhibit. “I want to be clarified, a little more real, as opposed to a few years ago, when it was easy not to get caught up in the events of life … It was more comfortable being unfocused.”

Strolling through the Verb Gallery, you can’t help but notice Mulder’s refined sense of direction. “Self-Portrait (Scully Beanz with His Heart on his Sleeve)” is the most coherent, if not the most engaging, piece in the collection. Ironically self-reflexive and evidently personal, Mulder’s reflection of himself retains the animated and energetic charm of his older work, yet it tells a more precise and perceptible narrative. In contrast, “Piggies at the Up Tempo,” a piece about drunken mayhem at the now-closed Scherzo pub, is fittingly noisy, turbulent, and unrestrained—a fundamental expression of instinctive motion.

Each piece reflects a distinct mentality and a specific memory. There’s a vocabulary of personal imagery that harmonizes the work, connecting unrelated pieces such as “Dishin,” a portrait of dish-ashing pandemonium, and “Bucket Seat Day Dreams,” a lament on the all-too-familiar bus ride.
Whether intentionally clarified or deliberately tumultuous, the value of Mulder’s paintings lies in their personally relatable and mildly ambiguous storytelling. The viewer is beckoned into his colourful commotion with a passport of interpretation and an invitation to associate their experience with Mulder’s highly personal depictions.

“I think everyone draws their own conclusions from art, and that’s what I want,” he said.
“I usually have my titles vague, so that people can make their own connections and relate their
experiences instead of leading them into a backlog of information.
“There shouldn’t be a catalogue of information needed to appreciate art.”

As intricate as it is dynamic, Wants and Needs rallies behind a lack of pretension to uphold an emotional sincerity. It doesn’t try to preach at you, yet it demands a level of appreciation that can only be achieved through interaction with the work.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Mulder has never been drawn to a politicized view of art.

As illustrated in Wants and Needs, his work is a reflection on intimate emotion rather than intuitive ideology. “A lot of work these days is informative-based. They all have this backdrop of the Middle East or some personal politic.
“I don’t want to marginalize the viewer like that. This is basic expression of emotion without a grand scheme.
“People have asked me why I don’t do more political work.
“I say it’s just one more Caucasian voice from the West with no weight to it. I’m just a guy from Kingston. I’m as informed as anyone else.
“Plus, it’s a hell of a lot more comfortable to work within your own narrative.”

Just as he depicts his self-portrait, Mulder bears his heart on his sleeve with this exhibit, and the viewer is invited to take that inevitable journey from the youthful expression of want to the evolving experience of need.

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