John John Jesse is an illustrative painter from New York City’s Lower East Side in the Juxtapoz gonzo-pop vein. He often shows with artists like Esao Andrews. A Punk rocker and former Catholic Schoolboy, John John’s work reflects the angst and trials of those two opposites. Self-taught as an artist, his visionary works of have the semblance of near-goth styles held in tandem with the acidic flair for . Only he can show us the worlds he has lived through, where the mistakes of our youth, sometimes can’t replace the wrong choices made. As the ethereal beauty of youth is depicted, we also witness the nonchalant behaviors brought on from oppressive environments, such as organized religion. These yield themselves to moments of self-destruction, substance abuse, and mockery, between what innocence should be, and what it tragically often becomes. He does this however in such obsessive detail and flair for originality, that the only hope beyond the tragedy of life, is the fact that he has survived it with his art.
He painted the girls he grew up with, citing the punk lifestyle of girls and drugs. Most of the people featured in his work are friends of his. They are generally nude or partially disrobed, in situations that are both fantastical and gritty. Jesse has, to date, two self declared series of renderings. The first consisting of black & white drawings he calls the “Baby Demonica” series (Baby Demonica gave birth to a black-and-white “Gorey-ish” character/limerick comic book with a dark, evil, and sexy cast of misfits from Hell and beyond written by both John John Jesse and Howie Pyro) and the second, full color paintings he calls the “Demonica Erotica” series.
Jesse also played bass in the New York Crust punk band Nausea and designed posters and album art for bands like Agnostic Front. He also is a former guitar player for the band Morning Glory.
In 2005, Vivian Giourousis interviewed the artist for Hoard magazine and asked him to define punk rock. He replied, “…punk rock was the world in which I entered at 14 years old because I didn’t fit in anywhere, not at school, not with friends, and not with my family. Back in the 80’s we were all serious misfits who didn’t belong, and together we were REALLY united. We all came from broken homes, we were victims of child abuse, we were angry, political, idealistic, drunk and proud. Basically punk rock music goes beyond the realms of just being a music scene. It’s a lifestyle and commitment. It’s my world, and honestly it’s all I know and it’s where I fit.”