articles
todd
camplin
2014
JAKE GILSON
at William Campbell Contemporary through april 26
by Todd Camplin

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
bring
ing 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.
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Asharej 714, 2012 oil pastel on paper 80 x 50 in.
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.

Asharej 515, 2012 oil pastel and pigment on paper
60 x 40 in.

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