Jeff Laird has been photographing the irregular forms and bleeding colors of painted-over graffiti for over a quarter century throughout the US, including Chicago, Phoenix, Austin, Albuquerque, Santa Fe and points in between. He has created what is reported to be the world's largest collection of images of painted-over graffiti while unearthing the subliminal forces at work.
In the process, he has discovered the true meaning of irregular forms in the history of art, from the creation of ancient sculpture to contemporary abstract art. These subconsciously created irregular forms occupy the same cognitive edge of abstraction as much of the Impressionist's work, best exemplified by Monet's hazy trees in his River Seine series.
Laird's images possess a direct lineage to the Bauhaus aesthetic and the Institute of Design, Chicago tradition of photographic perceptual ambiguity. They are reminiscent of the fantastical irregular forms of Jean Dubuffet, the tight cropping and bold iconic forms of Ellsworth Kelly, and the fields of bleeding colors of Mark Rothko and Helen Frankenthaler.
He has created steel sculptures of the irregular forms as trophies that pay tribute to the conscientious citizens who, every day, paint over graffiti for the good of mankind. The sculptures express the strength of pure form, flatness and edge, recalling the reductive work of both Giacometti and Donald Judd. The Outline sculptures are the cut outs from the irregular forms, vertically halved, then slid to the center. The Derivative sculptures, frequently anthropomorphic, consist of the reassembling of the scrap produced by the cut-outs.
His minimalist paintings record the physical attributes of painting over graffiti and the minimalization of fields of over-painting. The paintings express layers of surface, as well as the pure flatness of the picture plane. Like the painted-over graffiti, these paintings are produced with common household colors, which record the societal whims of the times.