Painter Jay Backstrand has an amazing eye for the unusual. His enigmatic imagery pulls the viewer into an abstruse and unique mapping of world history and phenomena. The work alludes to a kind of Pop Art vividness, referencing art history, culture and politics. Beautifully seductive, his canvases show off his technical expertise. Playing with color and scale, juxtaposing the familiar with the strange, the artist engages the viewer with this complexity of subject matter. Connecting to our subconscious, his assemblages seem ironic and prophetic. Backstrand pulls the viewer into a powerful and multivalent contemporary commentary.
Jay Backstrand studied at the Pacific Northwest College of Art, where he later taught art from 1975-1986. He also studied at the Slade School in London as a Fulbright fellow. He has exhibited his work since the 1960s, and in the 1970s was a co-founder of the Portland Center for Visual Arts. In 1984, he was honored with a 10-year retrospective at Marylhurst College, OR. His work is included in the collections of the National Gallery, Washington, DC; the Oxford University Press Print Collection, England; the Portland Art Museum; the Seattle Art Museum; the Tacoma Art Museum; the Henry Gallery at University of Washington; Denver Art Museum; and Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University, Salem, OR. Awards include an NEA grant, an Oregon Arts Foundation grant, and a Smithsonian Institute purchase award. His work was included in the Eighth Northwest Biennial at Tacoma Art Museum in 2007.