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Oliver Lee Jackson
No. 5 (Abstract Figurative Mixed Media Painting)

2015

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. 5" is a mixed media painting on canvas featuring paint as well as applied components of felt and burlap fabric. Jackson layers imagery of a dancing woman with outstretched arms over a large face staring out at the viewer; both figurative elements are created with shaped felt cut into silhouettes and accented with references to the human body, like eyes and the curve of a back, drawn on the surface of the fabric. In the upper left portion of the painting, a playfully grinning figure created from strips and triangles of burlap fabric moves through a field of loosely painted pink and blue flowers; in the figure's hand, incised into the red paint, is a blooming flower. "No. 5" 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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