Very few

Pasatiempo - - In Other Words -

of the new paint­ings in Jimi Glea­son’s show Linked by Light are strictly monochro­matic, but at first glance most of them seem to be. They ap­pear to be dom­i­nated by a sin­gle color — green, blue, gold, or sil­ver. But try shift­ing your po­si­tion and mov­ing around them: not only do th­ese colors change, the hues deep­en­ing or light­en­ing, they change dra­mat­i­cally; pearly whites fade into laven­der and blue, and golds fade into green.

The il­lu­sory ef­fects of the pearles­cent acrylics that Glea­son uses in his paint­ings may be what first cap­tures the eye, but more is go­ing on in the paint­ings in terms of com­po­si­tion and tech­nique.

One of the most strik­ing as­pects is their lu­mi­nos­ity, which evokes a sense of light-filled space. The cen­ters of Glea­son’s paint­ings are ghostly and ephemeral, their seem­ing lack of sub­stance con­tra­dicted by the way they are made: with mul­ti­ple lay­ers of paint, in dif­fer­ent colors, spread smoothly over the sur­face with knives. “My paint­ings en­cour­age light,” Glea­son told Pasatiempo. “Take a light-filled cen­ter and blended pearles­cent colors. The emo­tions in my paint­ings are not rep­re­sented solely by ei­ther but im­plied by the com­bi­na­tion of the two. The power of th­ese paint­ings comes from the in­side out, not the out­side in.”

Glea­son, who lives and works in Cal­i­for­nia, spent time work­ing as a photo as­sis­tant in New York, where he be­came in­ter­ested in the chem­i­cal re­ac­tions that oc­cur in de­vel­op­ing Po­laroid film. “I was in­trigued by how Po­laroid chem­i­cals pool around the edges,” said Glea­son, who wanted to cap­ture a sim­i­lar ef­fect us­ing paint. “That was the beginning of my evo­lu­tion as a painter.”

Glea­son was trained as a print­maker at the San Fran­cisco Art In­sti­tute in the mid-1980s. There he learned lithog­ra­phy, a print­mak­ing process that in­volves treat­ing lime­stone sur­faces or an­odized alu­minum plates with poly­mers that re­pel wa­ter and ab­sorb grease-based inks. Fus­ing pro­cesses that are in­her­ent to pho­to­graphic de­vel­op­ment and print­mak­ing, Glea­son has cre­ated a body of work that ref­er­ences th­ese other tech­niques without be­ing too spe­cific or adopt­ing the medi­ums fa­mil­iar to them. No emul­sion or grease or ink is used in them; it’s all done with paint.

In Vaulted, one of the paint­ings in the show, which opens Fri­day, Feb. 19, at Le­wAllen Gal­leries at the Rai­l­yard, one can see the darker edges that frame the com­po­si­tion and how the built-up lay­ers of the lighter colors stand out from the darker pig­ments. The pool­ing colors at the edges lend the com­po­si­tion a dense bor­der that frames the cen­ter, like a win­dow open­ing into luminous space. An­other paint­ing, Un­ti­tled (Yel­low/Blue), is like a trip­tych— a vertical band of blue set be­tween two bands of gold. Each panel has its own frame, and all three frames are at­tached, un­like most trip­ty­chs, in which each com­po­nent hangs sep­a­rately. The treat­ment of the paint, down to the striped pat­tern cre­ated by drag­ging the paint across the sur­face, is uni­form in all three sec­tions. “The whole un­der­body has con­ti­nu­ity,” said Glea­son. “I’m try­ing to frac­ture the plane just by color. I’m try­ing to push the plane but keep the con­ti­nu­ity.”

An­other trip­tych, called RogueWave, is an ex­am­ple of a dif­fer­ent kind of paint­ing style than that rep­re­sented in Glea­son’s pearles­cent paint­ings. Each panel of RogueWave, two gray and one blue, is uni­form in color, and the tex­ture cre­ated by the ap­pli­ca­tion of the paint lends each a more solid ap­pear­ance than a more opales­cent paint­ing like Vaulted, with its smooth sur­face. The stri­ated pat­tern

in a paint­ing ti­tled Aqua-Trac is more de­fined than the pat­terns in Rogue Wave, but both of th­ese denser paint­ings seem to be more about sur­face tex­ture and its re­flec­tive or ab­sorp­tive qual­i­ties with re­gard to light. In Vaulted, by con­trast, as in Un­ti­tled (Yel­low/Blue), the sur­face ap­pears to emit its own light.

An­other solid-col­ored piece, called Chrome, has a mir­ror­like sur­face that sub­verts what­ever im­age it might re­flect due to the folds and lay­ers in the paint. Though it may be­long more to the sec­ond type of paint­ing in Glea­son’s show, the more monochro­matic Chrome bridges the di­vide be­tween th­ese paint­ings and the pearles­cent ones, still in­cor­po­rat­ing light as a nec­es­sary el­e­ment for its full ef­fect. This makes for what is sure to be a bal­anced show. Even the solid-color paint­ings deepen or lighten in color, de­pend­ing on the an­gle from which they are viewed. In Linked by Light, paint it­self con­veys a sense of mys­tery and emo­tion through the ap­pli­ca­tion of the artist’s tech­nique rather than by his re­ly­ing on rep­re­sen­ta­tive im­agery.

The com­plex in­ter­ac­tions of light, color, and tex­ture that Glea­son brings to his work chal­lenges the no­tion that this is min­i­mal­ist art. The paint­ings are not eas­ily dis­missed as pure trick­ery, be­cause so much de­pends on the bal­ance be­tween the in­te­ri­ors and ex­te­ri­ors of each paint­ing or be­tween two dis­tinct se­ries of paint­ings. They are, ac­cord­ing to the artist, “a vis­ual rid­dle, a frozen mo­ment. They are im­ages that con­tain a cer­tain spirit, some­thing very deep and felt — based on re­al­ity al­though par­al­leled with mys­tery.” ◀

Jimi Glea­son:

Val­ley of Nep­tune,

2010, acrylic on can­vas, 86 x 48 inches

Luminous Value, 2009, acrylic on can­vas on panel, 26 x 26 inches

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