If a photograph is worth a thousand words, the conceptual work of artist Jess LaGreca is worth a million. While a master at various mediums of artistry, her most striking work can be found in her use of digital illustration, where a fascination with portraiture meets surrealism. Her work has surely not gone unnoticed as her talent can be found gracing editorials, commercial campaigns and even album covers.

At first glance, whether the subject is personal or that of pop culture reference, her pieces can be perceived almost as photographic portraits. A second look, however, reveals an integration of her original imagination as she transforms a moment in an individual’s life into illusory tales. Fashioned with bold strokes and vivid colors, her artwork is a testament to her inventive ability to craft and extract a person’s internal stories by highlighting their peculiarities found within facial expression to allow the details themselves to become the storytellers.

Always front facing, her subjects piercing stares allow for a mutual exchange of gaze between subject and viewer. The work then converts itself into one that is extremely personal and unique with every view and for every viewer. Whether the portrait is the sole focus of a piece or a part of a larger scene, the interlocking gaze utilizes the eye-to-eye relationship as windows to the library of tales within the characters soul. Affirming that the subjects are to always remain the focal point, each work projects intimacy and a tone of familiarity with the unfamiliar that resonates throughout her portfolio. Whether a playfully imaginative story is being told through the innocent eyes of a young girl, wisdom being projected through the wrinkles and fine lines of an elderly womans’ wonder or intense sense of dread inhabiting Donald Trump’s glare, LaGreca and her work create a distance between realistic human nature and abstract depiction to generate a tension that elevates the work rather than fragment it. It’s as if the further she pushes the portraits into a surreal world, the more the artwork seems to exert an emphasis on their truthful humanity.

While artists tend to create pieces based on the stories they long to tell themselves, Jess refreshingly has created a world in which her subjects speak upon their own experiences. With just the right proportion of both realistic depth and rich imagination, Jess LaGreca’s work speaks volumes to the human experience without words or sounds. From peaceful to thought provoking and everything in between, every image painted by the artist rediscovers what it is that makes us human by navigating us through a whimsical journey that is everything but real.


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