The colourful world of Richard Jackson

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Since the field of art is so vast, I try to focus on the studio and studio practices.  However recently I went to an exhibition that gave the idea of studio practice a whole new dimension.

Richard Jackson is an American painter who originally trained as an engineer and is very interested in the process of painting and the temporary nature of the work.  His work is currently on exhibit at the Rennie Collection, which is Vancouver’s first important private art museum. Bob Rennie is an art collector who decided to construct his own gallery to exhibit his collection of thought-provoking art.  During our tour we ran into Bob Rennie, who was enthusiastic and boyishly charming about his museum, and he told us that he hopes to have it open on Saturdays soon for those who can’t make the weekday tours.

But back to Richard Jackson, who has become one of my new favourite artists.  He is clearly an artist who shuns the artifice and preciousness around modern art to produce artwork that gives a definite middle finger to art establishment.

Jackson‘s work usually begins as a large sketch which is a cross between an architectural drawing and  miniature painting.  The sketches themselves displayed here are really interesting, they illustrate approximately what the finished project will look like.  Bob Rennie went to Jackson’s studio, chose a sketch and then Jackson came to the museum to create the work on site. He turns the gallery into his studio.

Here the painting featured in the first floor of the gallery.  Jackson loads a canvas with acrylic paint, screws it to the wall with a hinge device and then twirls it like a giant Spin Art toy.  He then waits for it to dry and adds another layer on top, a process that takes weeks.

Early in my marriage, I suggested to my husband, Patrick, that we purchase a piece of art from one of his avant garde friends, let’s call him Mr. X.  Patrick declared, “It’s not like a painting you could hang on the wall, Mr. X would probably come and live in our basement for a month as a project.” Less than intrigued, I gave up on that idea but I can see that Jackson is a similar type. Once he undertakes a project, he comes to the gallery and stays for weeks, building new floors, gradually adding layers of paint to canvases, installing existing works. According to our docent, Jackson is very interested in doing most of the work himself in response to the manufactured work of the American minimalists.  

And speaking of docents, in an earlier post I complained about the quality of the docents at this same museum, but this time I have taken the tour twice and both time the docents were excellent.  I believe that the difference is that since Jackson was at the museum for so long, everyone got to know him and understand his art more fully. Plus Jackson is clearly an open and interesting man, who demystifies the art process and freely allows photographs in the gallery. What a boon for bloggers, since writing about art is so much better when I can illustrate it.

Here is another piece, Pump Pee Doo, which is a take off on the Pompidou Museum in Paris. When activated, the bears pee paint into urinals.  The piece reflects ideas of Duchamp, complementary colours, the process of painting and just plain fun.  

Here is a close up of another painting constructed on site. In this piece, Jackson used paint as the mortar to build an enormous wall of paintings, held together by only acrylic and a few strategic wires.

The piece goes up about twenty feet to the ceiling of the museum.  Like the swirling painting on the main floor it is ephemeral, and will be taken down at the end of the show.  I felt sad that these works would be destroyed eventually and also privileged that I got to see them. As I mentioned, I’ve already been to the show twice, and I intend to go once more before the show ends in September. Finding a new favourite artist that I did not know before is a great delight.

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One thought on “The colourful world of Richard Jackson

  1. And whose basement is Mr X living in now? Great review of a wonderful exhibit-I hadn't appreciated the idea of the gallery becoming the studio-what is typically permanent becomes a performance and all we have left are our memories (and your photos!)

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