Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe, Thought in a Garden, 2008, oil on linen, 86” x 36” x 1-1/4”. Courtesy of Alexander Gray Associates.
Alexander Gray Associates is pleased to present an exhibition of recent abstract paintings by Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe. Working as a critic and an artist since the late 1970s, Gilbert-Rolfe’s commitment to advancing theoretical questions surrounding beauty has been unwavering. A fierce proponent of painting and its historical roots, his new work squarely locates painting as a Modern and post-Modern medium that is ripe with possibilities and experimentation, metaphor and content.
In the five abstract paintings in this exhibition, Gilbert-Rolfe revisits the grid and the vertically oriented canvas. The grid, which possessed a more architectural look when it first appeared in his paintings in the late 1970s and early 80s, becomes a mesmerizing force in new paintings such as Pynchon. Covering the entire canvas with a meticulously rendered rectangular grid, Gilbert-Rolfe uses the grid in Pynchon to suggest the depth of a screen and the temporal duration associated with music. An empathetic relationship with the viewer’s body is encouraged by all of the paintings’ verticality, which also shifts their compositional foci to the center, where a crevice runs down the center of each painting.
Gilbert-Rolfe has said that he “want[s] to reverse the relationship between color and drawing in painting.” In this new body of paintings, he has continued this pursuit by almost completely abandoning painterly gesture and instead using the grid to feature color in its most exuberant forms. Using a technique that involves building layers of glazes, Gilbert-Rolfe flaunts color, punching up the brightness of his pinks and yellows by juxtaposing them with dark browns and blues.