art art talk

Wasalu Jaco Art Talk At Soho House

Tuesday, March 10, 2015 Perry

Born and raised in Chicago, artist Wasalu Jaco may be best known for his work as rapper, Lupe Fiasco.  However, his tangible pieces of art offer an entirely different view of the world around him.  On Saturday, February 28th, Jaco spoke to the overflowing ground-level of Soho House Chicago about his career in painting.

Lead by his close friend, Sky Gellatly, the discussion unfolded as Jaco touched on his insecurities, inspirations, and his journey as an artist.

Gellatly: Everyone knows you as a musician, but the foundation that lead to your success in music also is the undercurrent that lead you to art, to painting, so let's talk about painting.  What was the initial impulse for you?

Jaco:  I feel like my music career is very can't touch it, because it doesn't live in the world, it doesn't take up space in the world.  And, I wanted to start creating things that took up space in the world.  When I initially started doing art, I didn't want to paint.  I started doing photography.  And over the course of maybe two years, I just started to take photos of things that I thought were very ironic, or had meaningful qualities, or very interesting things in my travels.  And I also created sculptures...really conceptual sculptures and pieces and stuff like that, but I never wanted to paint. 

It wasn't until he was inspired by a friend and fellow artist to create a vision he had through painting, that Jaco finally gave into this unexplored medium.  After studying under this friend as an apprentice for a few years, the paintings started to flow out naturally, like lyrics to a page.  Probably his most famous paintings would be 'Man Eating Tiger', recognized as the album cover of his latest album, 'Tetsuo & Youth'.

Jaco: It's an abstraction of the human body, coming into contact with what I consider to be a tiger stripe that is kind of distorting the figure and stripping it down to it's most basic elements and colors.  It can be a two way thing with the title, 'Man Eating Tiger'.  Is man eating all the tigers? Or, is it the other way around?  Is the Tiger, essentially nature, consuming man?  

Gellatly:  What are a few things that keep you moving forward when you start feeling resistance when creating something that you are passionate about?  

Jaco: The fear of not creating it.  I fear it not being created, more than I fear not creating it.  I'd rather show up with 1,000 paintings to a sea of hatred and resistance then coming with no paintings and still be hated.  Because, people don't hate you for what you make, they hate you for what you are. 

A special curation of Jaco's paintings are available for viewing at The Allis, within Soho House Chicago, for a limited time.  For more information on upcoming events and happenings, check out

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