The paintings that mark a gradual return to across-the-board contemporary art at Marta Hewett Gallery, where glass objects have held the floor, are themselves almost glass-like. Jason Zickler’s labor-intensive works with their dense layers of clear, cured resin and paint gleam in a celebration of colorfor its own sake but hold in their depths delineations by line as well.
The colors remain separated and true, thanks to the layering, and the depth of the work can be grasped by looking closely from the side of these unframed canvases. Their uneven surfaces, from this intimate vantage point, appear to be studded with jewel-like protuberances and drawn lines can be discerned. Also visible from the side: paint that sometimes has been allowed to seep across the width of the stretcher. Hewett says of the works in the exhibition “the majority have been completed in the last two years. Jason may work on a piece and then return to modify it for quite some time.”
These paintings seem to me pure non-objective art – that is to say, art in which subject has been dispensed with completely, as opposed to abstraction with its complicated investigations of structure. The glories of color are self-evident, explored in nuances and complements.
Unpopulated Spaces, at sixty inches by ninety-six inches the largest of the paintings on view, flaunts reds that run to browns but are punctuated by emerging blues. Zickler’s titles, as Unpopulated Spaces might suggest, shrug off subject matter or, sometimes, make jokey reference to it. Privacy Notice is one of those, along with Audacious Flavor and Related Story. Audacious Flavor, for instance, is dark at bottom and along the right side, with yellows cracking forth elsewhere. Privacy Notice is replete with blues, greens, yellows, all brought up short by restraints in red. In Elevated, Expansive, Irritable he more or less throws up his hands with the title and applies to this pulsing work full length drip lines. The daffodil yellows of another, in which the stroke of the brush is vital to the effect, are simply referred to as Untitled Yellow.
In the most recent painting on view Zickler explores another variation, dispensing with the lacquered-appearing top surface of the other works for a matte-like finish that seems to be applied over the old, slick look, as that holds its own in some areas. A quiet work, the blues here fade into yellows, all set off by a few verticals in thin red paint. This is, in fact, the Zickler painting that most appeals to me. The artist himself may not be satisfied, though, as he calls the piece Unaccomplished Change. So, more to come in this vein?
The Indianapolis artist has not shown here previously, Hewett says. “People recommended his work to me, perhaps because of its surface quality, so I went to his studio to see it,” a visit that resulted in the current show. It will be on view until the end of the month, when a new exhibition of glass opens on Friday, September 30.
This next show, Through the Dark Wood, will present new works by Steven Ramsey, professor at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Ramsey’s glass objects “represent the continued diversity of glass as a medium capable of considerable content,” Hewett says. She calls his technique “masterful.”
The Hewett Gallery, since 2009 in The Annex at 1310 Pendleton Street in Over-the-Rhine, began on Main street twenty years ago and then for a period of years was located in Louisville. Hewett first showed a variety of work but soon concentrated on the rapidly developing field of art glass. Now she finds herself again drawn to a wider spectrum. She has another painter, Kevin Veara of Springfield, Illinois, in mind for an exhibition, as well as a Serbian-born photographer whose landscapes are “beautiful, not real, almost fantasy.” That show may appear in conjunction with Foto-Focus, the ambitious city-wide photography celebration taking place a year from now. She’s also interested in Eric Standley, of Virginia, “who creates mesmerizing paper pieces.” and she is looking at additional ceramic artists as well.
Meanwhile, glass remains much in evidence at the gallery and Jason Zickler’s paintings are relatives, of a sort.
Danny I really enjoyed this sept. Issue. Phyllis
Hello Jane. Your commentary on Jason Zigler’s paintings was very polished and I liked it that you paid so much attention to the techniques and effects. I thought your piece was insightful.