memoria praeteritorum bonorum [the past is always well remembered].
While in Las Vegas, Jeff started and completed several new photographic projects that have expanded his artistic lexicon: Instant Icons; SCRAP— and his Multiple Exposure style from which have come; Paradise Lost and Halftone Lockdown.
While refining his 3xPosure style, hunting imagery aisle to aisle in several favorite vintage stores in the Las Vegas Arts District, Jeff became more aware of nostalgia in the form of advertising from the 1950s and ‘60s. Amid mod-style furniture and lamps, big Coca-Cola signs, and neon, there wafted a casual innocence implying a happier time of liberal pleasures modeled by smiling faces drinking, smoking, gambling, and the addition of coy and gleeful nudes (and Elvis). Stacks of used men’s magazines, the occasional sexual playing cards, showgirl gift items, burlesque photos, and pin-up posters became fodder for multi-exposed photographs—all in proximity to carefree couples driving their new Chevy, a dapper JFK, Tiki bar glasses, and children’s games. It was a heavenly slice of retro-pie.
Jeff’s triple exposed photographs, layered with cheery vintage advertising and clandestine pleasures, are given a more profound twist by referencing John Milton’s epic 17th-century poem, Paradise Lost. On one level, the title ironically suggests better times gone by as a paradise lost: those days of innocence, of wine and roses, and “guilty-pleasure-filled” carefree living—a rosy retrospection. On another level, LeFever offers us a literal point of reference to Milton’s poem of Man’s fallen nature, suggesting the past of our memory was not so innocent. Or, as LeFever points out when Las Vegas is mentioned as a place of corruption, “What happens in Vegas comes in and goes home with the tourists.”
Paradise Lost composes rosy retrospection with base human nature, peeking under the cultural hood of our inherited behavioral theater, walking a line between secular cozy and biblical sobriety. See some selections from Paradise Lost in the Online Exhibition tab.