Untitled No. 8

Oliver Lee Jackson American

Not on view

A multi-media artist based in San Francisco, whose expansive practice encompasses painting, sculpture, printmaking, and video, among other materials, Jackson explores his ideas across techniques and often on a considerable scale. This vibrant large painting discreetly betrays the artist’s persistent concern for figuration, one informed by evolving modes of abstraction, steeped in global art history, and responsive especially to mid-twentieth-century American painting (especially the work of Willem de Kooning and Philip Guston. More specifically, the composition attests to Jackson’s deep and enduring investigation of bodily gesture across media. The prominent, dark figure in the lower-right corner, for instance, derives from an inventory of recurring, typically fragmented characters that Jackson developed over time and that variously appear to crouch, reach, fall, and lean as they inhabit environments defined primarily by color and mark. Other gestural references and allusions appear throughout this composition, which characteristically resists explicit narrative or interpretation. As Jackson explained in an interview published in 1989, "we understand states of being by the posture or gesture of the body.… And they carry that without any overlay of talk.… I use them as direct, visual communicative images." Moreover, Jackson’s deliberately inelegant drawing (his incorporation of oil stick here underscores the importance of this medium), is a two-dimensional corollary to an incising technique he pursued in his sculpture around the same time, pointing, once again, to the formal and aesthetic cross-pollination of his holistic approach to making art.

Untitled No. 8, Oliver Lee Jackson (American, born St. Louis, Missouri, 1935), Oil and oil stick on canvas

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