Henry Jackson’s mastery of color and composition rank him among the most accomplished of abstract expressionist painters working today. Combining abstraction with alternating degrees of figuration, the San Francisco artist carries forward influences from earlier Bay Area Figurative forebears while bringing to his work entirely new and fresh dimensions of process and material.
As the title of this exhibition makes reference, the paintings that make up Sight Becomes Insight spring from both intuition and cumulative experience. Careful consideration of Jackson’s art reveals a multifaceted combination of various rival impulses: figuration and abstraction, instinct and intention, body and spirit. These impulses contribute to a sense of unearthing: for Jackson, truth lies beneath thought, beneath certainty or inevitability. Rather than literal record of his thoughts or observations, his paintings attend to inner, indefinable elemental truths or emotions that could only have been freed through paint. Their spirit is illuminated through personal exploration and expressed by Jackson through emanations in oil and cold wax.
Works in this exhibition offer further deconstruction of Jackson’s figures into suggestions of formless, elemental energy through layers upon layers of lively, muscular color. Many of these paintings can also be read as investigations into pure abstraction; still, Jackson recognizes the impulse in his viewers to synthesize shape and brushstroke into form or something resembling the figure. In any case, evidence of the body is tangible in the visceral, primal textures on the canvas, and in it the inferred memory of the artist’s gesture. “In these works, the figure becomes one with environment, so they are celebrated in unison,” Jackson says. “The focus here is on color, which creates a sense of hope.” Perhaps never before has Jackson’s art rejoiced so completely, so freely in the arresting possibilities of color.