Tree's Studio

By Drake's

2024년 6월 10일

Tree's Studio

Growing up in Kansas City in America’s vast Midwest, Jasaya Neal liked to climb trees, which lead to an observant cousin giving him the nickname… Tree. 

Years later, Neal is a self-taught painter with a growing profile and a life in Los Angeles, but he still goes by Tree, a name that stuck and tethers him to his Missouri hometown and Trinidadian roots. “I grew up drawing, but only started painting around five years ago,” he says, showing us around his small studio with a skylight that leads to a sloped roof, the blue sky of a warm afternoon stretching out into the distance. 

Tree’s work centres around snapshots of his travels and daily observations, intimate moments captured on camera before being applied to canvas: commuters on a bus, a newspaper jammed into a coat pocket, a chicken cradled under an arm, possibly destined for the butcher’s block. “I don’t really connect with LA In my work,” says Tree, “I see things differently when I’m somewhere else, not at home. “I’ve begun working in a more figurative way. I love the mystery of painting the back of someone's head, people in motion, or the interior of an unexpected space. There’s a cinematic element that I’m going for.” 

After a handful of group shows, in February he was able to put on a debut solo exhibition, Hidden in Plain Sight, at LA’s Sow & Tailor gallery as part of the city’s Frieze Week, a series of paintings that, as the gallery put it, were “infused with personal history, identity, and the subtle beauty found in everyday life.” He’s already begun work on a follow-up, along with a series of new group shows—a  growing buzz. 

“It’s been a bit overwhelming,” says Tree, sounding not at all overwhelmed, “but I’m trying not to overthink it.” 

“I just want to keep it chill, and take it as it is.”

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