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Jason Karolak
 Prospects
 September 6 - October 8, 2017

In his new paintings, Karolak continues his investigation of linear, vividly colored geometric abstractions set on matte black fields. The new work possesses an increased clarity and directness, and has progressed toward more succinct and refined gestures and forms. The artist creates compositions that are seemingly reductive, but are actually the product of a multi-layered process. Karolak begins his oil paintings with up to a dozen gesso layers to provide a smooth and reflective surface, and then lays down large sections of strong and saturated color. On top of these chromatic fields, the artist applies layers of matte black, while leaving small linear and geometric sections uncovered. In many of the works, irregular geometries in dark tones of purple, blue, and gray are laid down at the same time as the black layers, creating a luminous and animated ground as well as spatial structure and depth. Finally, linear elements are layered on top of these areas. Using intense colors and drawing in paint without guides, the linear elements create assertive compositions that reference architectural forms, built environments, and the figure. Employing a limited but strong palette, the drawn color creates volume and weight as well as rhythmic movement in the work.
 
All of Karolak’s painting is grounded in ink drawings which he creates almost daily. In so doing, he continuously forms a working vocabulary of structures and patterns that makes its way into his paintings. Moreover, abstract motifs in the paintings reflect the artist’s direct experience with the environment during his frequent walks in and around New York City, as well as international travel experiences. The work is also informed by his reading of the American transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882). In his well-known essay, Nature, and in the chapter, “Prospects,” Emerson posits that while science is important for understanding the physical world, we need to rely on “real experience” of phenomena in order to connect to them personally and attain a deeper understanding. These new works express Karolak’s direct distillation of specific locations, events, and impulses filtered through his drawing and studio processes.
 
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55 Orchard Street, New York, New York 10002 212 989 5467 fax 212 989 5642
email info@mckenziefineart.com