William Campbell Gallery is pleased to spotlight the work of gallery artist, Jake Gilson. The gallery has represented Gilson since the 1990s. His works exude strength and stability through his pastels on paper, the media lending itself to reveal his handwork and application. Gilson also creates impressive steel constructions and reliefs.  

Appearance is the term Jake Gilson uses to describe those flittering instances when people attain a brief and perfect moment of clarity and knowing. Triggered by sound, smell, sight or touch, these moments can be so pure that a person might be willing to give all to regain that enlightened state. Gilson’s minimalist paintings on steel and paper serve as the conduit in his search.

Jake Gilson creates medium and large-scale paintings on steel as well as his thematically consistent works on paper. Gilson chemically manipulates sheets of steel by flooding the surface with an acid called gun bluing to achieve his subtle modulations of dark blue/black surfaces. He gathers “information” from the resulting surface to add the graceful and haunting “float” shapes that draw the viewer into his contemplative works. Gilson refers to these “floats” as the “presence” in each painting. A new element in Gilson’s recent work is the addition of oil pigment in a grid-like pattern. This bit of reason and order serves as the “self-conscious” of the presence. The terrific energy of these large works is conveyed more powerfully through this newly defined relationship with the otherwise ambiguous space.

As his paradoxically minimal and poetic paintings on steel are achieved through a very physical process, Gilson works the variations of oil stick, watercolor, wax, and graphite with his hands for his on-paper abstractions. Gilson’s tense color vocabulary of reds, blues, whites, and blacks is as consistent and minimal as his thematic vocabulary. In doing something over and over, there is a reductive manner by which each time you may possibly extract something. This is fundamental to Gilson’s drive towards purity, or the prima material. Through this mantra-like approach to his work, Gilson seeks a state of “ultimate reality” much like chanting is believed to deliver monks to a state of enlightenment.

Native Californian and previous Texas resident, Jake Gilson now resides in Utah. He concluded a solo exhibition at the Amarillo Museum of Art and has also exhibited at the Laguna Beach Art Museum, Long Beach Art Museum, Blue Star Art Space in San Antonio, the Tyler Museum of Art and the Heard Museum in Phoenix. His work has been commissioned for public art projects, including the city of Austin’s Art in Public Places program, a collaboration with Tre Arenz.