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Oliver Lee Jackson
No. 3

2017

Price Upon Request

About

Born in 1935, Oliver Lee Jackson’s initial emergence as an artist occurred amidst the vibrant, cross-disciplinary arts scene of St. Louis in the mid-1960s where Jackson led a series of community arts programs. Though never formally a member, Jackson was closely affiliated with the landmark Black Artists Group (BAG), which fostered collaboration among black musicians, dancers and theater performers in the St. Louis area from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s. Jackson was particularly influenced by his involvement with avant-garde jazz musicians at the center of the BAG movement, most notably the free jazz musician Julius Hemphill, who became a lifelong friend and collaborator. Nurtured by the spirit of mid-century artistic freedom characterized by modern jazz and abstract expressionism, Oliver Lee Jackson embarked on a decades-long trajectory of singular artistic experimentation. Jackson’s sustained approach to art-making remained determinedly individualistic even as it was profoundly informed by a dizzying array of influences, including West African sculpture, El Greco, Giotto, Rembrandt, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Willem de Kooning, the post-war COBRA movement, Jackson Pollock and Philip Guston. Critics have long-remarked upon Jackson’s uncanny ability to synthesize such a broad array of references into a highly-unique, individualistic style. Artwork by Oliver Lee Jackson is held in the permanent collections of many institutions including the National Gallery of Art (Washington, DC); the Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY); the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY); the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, MA); the Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago, IL); the Detroit Institute of the Arts (Detroit, MI); the New Orleans Museum of Art (New Orleans, LA); the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco, CA); the San Jose Museum of Art (San Jose, CA); and the Seattle Art Museum (Seattle, WA). "No. 3" depicts two figures painted in an abstract, gestural fashion. The central figure, whose body is loosely defined with various shades of red paint, wears a hat. He reaches out a hand, accented in bright blue, to the figure next to him, whose body is comprised of yellow and red paint with applied swatches of burlap fabric. The yellow figure appears to be dancing or playing an instrument on a sphere of vivid blue paint. Squiggles of spray painted metallic silver and gold, and dripped blue paint, punctuate the background and enhance the sense that the figures are in motion. Jackson's interest in jazz music often translates to his paintings; the viewer can link his improvisational yet controlled application of paint to jazz, with blocks of color, squiggles, and drips suggesting meandering variations on a theme. "No. 3" was exhibited at "Untitled Original", a solo exhibition of paintings, prints, and various works of sculpture and assemblage spanning much of Jackson's career. "Untitled Original", which ran from 31 May to 3 November 2018 at Burning in Water New York, was the first exhibition of Jackson's art in New York in over 25 years.

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