Jason Boyd Kinsella’s curious portraits dissect the architecture of human psychology

Jason Boyd Kinsella’s curious portraits dissect the architecture of human psychology

Based on the Myers-Briggs personality test, Jason Boyd Kinsella’s new portrait series, on show at Perrotin in Paris, examines the building blocks of human existence 

Jason Boyd Kinsella’s paintings have all the clean-surfaced, tight-framed hallmarks of an old master painting, the stacked geometry of cubism, the illogical, dreamlike qualities of surrealism, yet jut out from their canvases like nothing else. 

‘My visual language telegraphs this impermanence by illustrating our existence as a delicate assemblage of shapes unbound by flesh,’ he says. ‘Each colourful building block is open to new combinations of elements – like some visual alchemy.’

Kinsella – born in Toronto and now based between Oslo and Los Angeles – took up painting again in 2019 following a 30-year hiatus. ‘The Impermanent State Of Being’ at Perrotin Matignon 8, Paris, marks the artist’s first show in France, and presents ​​a series of new works that examine perpetual fluctuations in states of being. Though the parallels with painting history are clear (not least in their immaculate mastery of perspective), Kinsella’s portraits are resolutely contemporary, both in theory and practice.

Jason Boyd Kinsella studio portrait
 Photography: Andris Søndrol Visdal. Courtesy of the Artist and Perrotin

They seem to paint humankind as a switchable, modular entity whose ingredients can be rearranged, reconfigured, or even toppled over given the right force. Perhaps they are an uncanny reflection of human existence in the digital world, a space of freedom, but also of ephemerality and deep uncertainty. 

Equally rooted in the 21st century is Kinsella’s creative process – there is method in this madness. For each portrait, the artist breaks down the personality traits of his protagonists into distinct geometric components based on the Myers-Briggs personality test; their shape, colour and size define their individuality. 

After the sketching stage, he elaborates the colour scheme through 3D software and ultimately renders it in oil on canvas, where the brushstrokes and the tiny imperfections are left visible. The results are as jarring as they are intriguing; bodies are architecture, faces have pick-n-mix parts and humans are building blocks, like sculptures within the confines of a canvas.

However you read them, Jason Boyd Kinsella’s paintings are a dystopian yet beautifully compartmentalised take on humanity, its multifaceted psychology and perpetually moving parts. §

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