Tuesday, April 29, 2014


MK 75 2011 oil pastel on paper 59 x 42 in.

ModernDallas.net repost of my article

Many innovations of the 20th century are playing out now with nuanced exploration. Minimalism is one of the last of that period which has sent shockwaves down the spine of contemporary art. In my own taste, I have gravitated toward this calm, meditative approach to making art. Jake Gilson’s take on this idea of minimalism is really quite dirty, gritty and Gilson’s solo show at William Campbell Contemporary makes the gallery feel like a religious temple.

I instantly thought of the Rothko Chapel when seeing these works together. The drawings have presence that insist a transcendent experience. Though Gilson intends to ascribe no real meaning to these works, I am convinced that meaning will ultimately be applied. He might be an “Enigma” as the title of his show declares, but wait till a bit of scholarship is done on him. Besides, Gilson’s simple shapes make reading the work a personal journey where meaning becomes customizable and open. Personally, in many of these drawings, I see Gilson reflecting the shapes of religious icons. MK 75 curves like a cathedral window or maybe a door cracking open. Or maybe I am just bringing in my own cultural biases which predispose me to make connections that are not really there. Then again, I return to Rothko’s spirituality and I can’t help but see a correlation.

Normally hard-edge paintings or plain color field paintings are artists’ strategies to explore minimalist subjects. Gilson takes a more expressionist approach where clean lines and purely solid colors have been traded in gestural mark making. His drawings are a great reflection of the material he uses. His oil stick and oil pastel drawings feel sticky and messy like Anish Kapoor’s “Svayambh” sculptures made of a mix of wax, paint and Vaseline. Normally a crowded edge can be distracting, but Gilson makes his shape employ the edge as an element of intentional design. I think the unframed works had a bigger impact on me. Though, I know all too well, from personal experience, that displaying works on paper without frames is risky. With such wild and grimy marks, he still creates desirable shapes. I think the fuzzy edges mirror Rothko’s and also make’s color have more vitality.

William Campbell Contemporary will also be showing Jake Gilson at the Dallas Art Fair this week along with many of their other artists. The “Enigmas” show will be up through April 26th.

ModernDallas.net  for more images.

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