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Artist Paul Jenkins @ UB’s Anderson Gallery

Tasked with reviewing the Paul Jenkins exhibit at the Anderson Gallery, I
assumed a quick visit would suffice for a few paragraphs about the
artist’s relevance to our aesthetic history. Fast forward two hours
later to me curled up on a leather stump surrounded by massive canvas
and ribbons of color. The first thought to come to mind is: he
must be the antithesis of Julianne Moore’s character, Maude, in the Big
Lebowski
. While Moore (Maude) as an artist is spontaneous,
hysterical and sloppy, Paul Jenkins seems to have gentle control over
his work, purified process and a clear vision of the end result. His
translucent, smoke-shaped colors are such an ideal summation of the 1960s
& 1970s that I can’t believe there’s any other artist to have
captured that essence so eloquently.

But was a counterculture memory Jenkins’ intention? Surely not. The
actual inspiration for his work came from his mental and physical
landscape, and a profound respect for the artists of the Avant-garde
collective, Gutai. On view at the Anderson Gallery as well (and
all from Japan circa 1950 – 1960), is Jenkins’ private collection of work by
artists Sadamasa Motonaga, Shozo Shimamoto, Tsuruko Yamazaki and Kazuo
Shiraga
. Each of them was addicted to color and planes of layered paint
that explored radical and experimental methods in search of a new visual
language. Jenkins adhered to that notion while nurturing his own, more
restrained technique highlighted in a documentary film made about the
artist and his process. The Ivory
Knife
looks at the tools and approaches to paint application
Jenkins exploited and, in 1958, the ivory knife he began to use to guide
the flow of paint.

Though water based, his acrylics still manage to form valleys,
mountains and caverns; some paintings are haunting, others emit fearless
bursts of emotion and a few look like simple washes done on a rainy
day. Even the titles of his paintings are revelations. “Titles for me
are like names on a map of the artist’s world,” Jenkins stated in a 1963
interview with Jean Cassou. “I try to find the identity word that will
secure an attitude toward a painting rather than provoke a visual object
that the eye will seek out.” Saturn Burns is a particularly
eerie work centered around a spine of ghostly white over rainbow wings. Guardian
is riddled with veins of red, and my personal favorite, Red Through,
is largely overlooked, but just graceful with a brilliant use of negative space.

Alfred Frankenstein wrote in a review of the artist’s 1971-1972
American retrospective: “Paul Jenkins is one of those who were selected
by fate to come into their own with the introduction of the acrylic
medium. His mature work is inconceivable except in terms of acrylic,
with its fluidity, its acquiescence in unconventional techniques, and
its special range of luminosity in color.” (“A Unity of Man and
Materials”, San Francisco Chronicle, January 16, 1972). The
collection is on view through August 22 at UB’s Anderson Gallery.

Paul Jenkins in the 1960s and 1970s: Space, Color and Light until
August 22, 2010
UB Anderson Gallery
One Martha Jackson Place
Buffalo,
NY 14214

716-829-3754

—–

Image courtesy of the UB Anderson Gallery website: Paul Jenkins, Phenomena
Lasting Dawn
, 1977. Acrylic on canvas. 78″ x 132″. Exhibited at UB
Anderson Gallery. Paul and Suzanne Jenkins.

Laura Duquette is a former ballerina who now dances with words
and punctuation. She has a knack for asking questions faster than the
speed of sound, and her interviews are often off the cuff and personal.
She is Co-Owner of 12 Grain
Studio
, a Buffalo based creative firm that gives typical web design a
kick in the ass.

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Written by queenseyes

queenseyes

Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

Contact Newell Nussbaumer | Newell@BuffaloRising.com

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