Enigmas, an exhibition of new large-scale drawings by Jake Gilson,
will be on display March 29-April 26, at William Campbell Contemporary Art. An opening
reception will be held on Spring Gallery Night, Saturday, March 29, 11:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
The show will feature Gilson's bold yet delicate abstracts that entice and engage with
palpable color fields, kinetic mark making, and an ostensible path to transcendence.
"I want them to have a real presence," Gilson remarks about his drawings, which are,
in fact, brilliantly tactile and luscious-evidence of his own physicality and energy.
His media include powdered graphite, charcoal, dry pigment, and pencil, and these
materials appeal to the artist largely because of their immediacy. Instant, potent
marks and strokes reveal his process, while visually connecting the artist's
intentions with their external realization, and eventually, with the viewer.
Although somewhat identifiable, the principal shapes in Gilson's drawings
surpass simple functionality. Inspired by such forms as arches, vessels, and
even sarcophagi, the artist focuses on each one's identity as an object-an
entity unto itself, rather than one thing constructed to define or qualify
another. He "shuffles" the shapes, stripping them of environmental or geographic
reference, only to re-present them as indeterminate. In this vein, they become
objective and universal, elevated and transformed.
I try to make a visual and emotional experience that is
beyond ethical understanding.
To see something without reference to what is
known. Some elements are recognizable. Hopefully, the context will present
an enigma which leaves me empty, like a hallucination with an absolute.
In seeking to move beyond such an "ethical understanding," Gilson strives to
create abstractions so perplexing and beguiling that viewers stop trying to
ascribe meaning to them, and embrace that there is no one "right" answer. By
removing all recognizable allusions, he encourages a personal (even spiritual)
experience within the depths of his broad, transcendental imagery.
The central shapes in Gilson's compositions are solid and resolute, but
nevertheless brim with life as waves of pigment roll across the surface.
Their precisely drawn outlines offer a sense of control within the action-a
fluid but hearty spontaneity. Fluctuating between positive and negative
space, the colorful areas invite contemplation. Are they hiding or revealing
whatever lies beneath? This fluctuation speaks to a consistent theme
throughout Gilson's work: the defiance of stagnation. Whether physically,
visually, intellectually, or spiritually, the artist constantly challenges
himself to evolve-to personify what Martha Graham described as "a queer,
divine satisfaction; a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us
more alive than others." This comes through in Gilson's lively, thoughtful
process, as well as in his dynamic, visceral, and enigmatic work.
Inscrutable yet revelatory, Jake Gilson's drawings amplify the beauty and
power of the unknown. Working with rich, saturated pigments and stalwart
shapes, he delves into the realm of total abstraction as he attempts to
discover and share-if only briefly-a glimpse of the sublime.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
A long-established and highly noted fine artist, Jake Gilson has been exhibiting work for nearly four decades in galleries and museums across the country. He has shown widely across Texas, in Fort Worth, Dallas, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Galveston, and Corpus Christie, among other cities, and nationally, in such places as Los Angeles, Denver, Minneapolis, Phoenix, and Salt Lake City.
Gilson is the recipient of various awards, including grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (Mid-America Arts Alliance) and the Utah Arts Council, in addition to a Helena Wurlitzer Foundation Residency. He received a Pollock/Krasner Award in 2004, and a prize from New York Awards to Artists in 2003. He was commissioned to create two public art pieces in Austin as well, in both 2003 and 1994. His work has been featured in many publications, including Fort Worth's Star-Telegram, the Dallas Morning News, the Los Angeles Times, the Austin American Statesman, and Artlies magazine, to name a few.
Jake Gilson earned his MFA from Arizona State University, and a BFA from Humboldt State University in Arcata, California. He has taught art at various colleges and universities, among them the University of Texas, Southwest Texas State University, the University of Southern California, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. He currently resides in the United Arab Emirates, where he leads the visual arts program that he founded at a university there.