55 Orchard Street, New York, New York 10002 212 989 5467 fax 212 989 5642
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Jason Karolak
 February 13 - March 22, 2015

Jason Karolak has long employed an abstract geometric vocabulary in his oil paintings. He creates work, rooted in a drawing process, which highlights the physical construction of paintings through line. Karolak generates complex linear structures and irregular geometries painted in vivid, sometimes fluorescent hues set against dark grounds. In earlier work, smaller-scaled paintings emphasized all-over patterns set within a shallow space, while his larger paintings explored linear shapes set against black fields in a classical figure/ground relationship. In this recent work, however, there is a greater unity in the imagery used at all scales. At the same time, the grounds have become more complex and so play a more engaged role with the drawn lines of color.
Drawing is at the core of Karolak’s work. The artist consistently creates ink drawings in the studio and in notebooks, out of which structures and patterns emerge to find their way into his paintings. Colors are inspired by signage, artificial lighting, graffiti, and architecture, as well as the natural world. An important aspect of Karolak’s creative process is his habit of walks in his studio neighborhood of northwestern Brooklyn, where geometries of the industrial landscape dominate the waterfront. Sometimes he ventures further afield, to more natural settings such as Jamaica Bay or Pelham Bay Park. The walks involve the artist with scale in a concrete way, an engagement he has transferred to the viewer’s experience of structure in his paintings.
In the current work, Karolak begins by laying down rectangular blocks of color, in side-by-side rows, which are then overpainted with black. The coverage is not always complete, however, and the under colors are sometimes revealed as distinct linear or geometric elements. At the perimeters of the paintings bars of color frame the work, and at intersections of black fields fragments of color often peep through. Over these animated fields Karolak creates his drawn structures in paint. These forms bring to mind the geometries of urban environments as well as imaginative sculptural forms. There is an energetic play in the work, a push and pull of color, weight, and light. The eye travels across the paintings, following the lines as they change directions, shift colors and create the illusion of volume, only to contradict that illusion by emphasizing flatness. The background colors and geometric forms engage with the drawn lines in a more active manner in these new paintings, and there is an enhanced feeling of rhythmic activity, vibration, echo and syncopation. While distinctly hand-made, with irregularities and other imperfections, Karolak’s lines are not expressive. They allow for a human touch without the baggage of emotional gesture.
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55 Orchard Street, New York, New York 10002 212 989 5467 fax 212 989 5642
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