No. 5

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  • Condition Report

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  • Provenance

    Burning in Water Gallery, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    Born 1935, St. Louis, MO

    1958 BFA, Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, IL
    1963 MFA, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA

    Selected honors: National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (1980-81); Nettie Marie Jones Fellowship (1984); Art Matters Grant (1988); Fleishhacker Foundation Eureka Fellowship (1993); Award in Painting and Sculpture, Flintridge Foundation, CA (2003/2004)
    Selected museum exhibitions and performances: the Contemporary Art Museum, MO; Harvard University, MA; Newport Harbor Art Museum, CA; Crocker Art Museum, CA; Seattle Art Museum, WA; St. Louis Art Museum, MO; and Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, NC
    Selected public collections: The National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Metropolitan Museum, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Detroit Institute of the Arts; New Orleans Museum of Art; Portland Art Museum, Oregon; St. Louis Art Museum; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; San Jose Museum of Art; and Seattle Art Museum, WA

    Oliver Lee Jackson is an American painter, printmaker, and sculptor whose complex body of work is influenced by a vast range of sources from the Renaissance to Modernism, with principles of rhythm and improvisation drawn from his study of African cultures and American jazz. Having spent his formative years in the vibrant, cross-disciplinary arts scene of St. Louis in the mid-1960’s, Jackson’s work has been particularly influenced by his involvement with avant-garde jazz musicians at the center of the Black Artists Group (BAG) movement, most notably the free jazz musician Julius Hemphill, who became a lifelong friend and collaborator. After six decades of art making, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. will present a major Oliver Lee Jackson retrospective in March 2019.

    In reference to having cited a wide range of influential sources for his own painting, Jackson said that, “if you are true to yourself and the inner logic that develops with each painting, unity will take care of itself. The painting and everything in it - whether it’s the ‘realism’ of a Vermeer or the ‘abstraction’ of a Pollock - is a vehicle for something beyond it. It has to be put together as perfectly as possible, like any vehicle, but it is the vision beyond that gives the painting meaning.”

    Jackson refers to the bodily forms evident in his works as “paint people”. The sinewy shapes are defined by their materiality, rather than by their representation of the human figure. This emphasis on anatomies that exists only “in the paint” is apparent in the layered abstraction present in his work No. 5, 2016, where the space is implied rather than illustrated, and does not obey the physical rules of reality outside of the painting. This creative freedom that Jackson allows himself accommodates a bridge between figuration and abstraction. No. 5 communicates greater truths about the internal complexities of experiencing movement, rather than those related to the witnessing of movement. In his own words, “My forms are not illustrations of feelings. The paint is the form the feelings take when they come into the world. Paintings have moral implications only when they can make you stand in front of them and feel the urgency of their relationships.”


No. 5

signed and dated "© O.L.J. 11.29.16" along the lower edge
oil paint and mixed media on linen
114 3/4 x 108 1/2 in. (291.5 x 275.6 cm.)
Executed in 2016.

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New York Selling Exhibition 10 January - 8 February 2019