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Jim Gaylord - Exhibitions - Sperone Westwater

Elastic Palace, 2023

Press Release

Sperone Westwater is pleased to present “Chiaroscuro,” the gallery’s first solo exhibition of artist Jim Gaylord. The show of eight cutout watercolor paper bonded marble works embraces themes of iconography, formalism and geometry.

With this body of work, Gaylord departs from his painting practice to create paper constructions that bring his imagery into sharper focus. Using the blade of an X-Acto knife to hand-cut heavy watercolor paper (produced by St. Cuthberts Mill in England), Gaylord defines a precise edge, forgoing the unruliness of the brushstroke. “It attributes a certainty to the forms, and their volumetric construction creates a material presence in space,” explains Gaylord. “There is no ambiguity to their physical shape, yet the elements remain mysterious, neither completely abstract nor representational. Like Louise Nevelson's painted assemblages made from found wood, the monochromatic surfaces lend an open-endedness to the imagery.”

Gaylord’s early experiments with paper cutouts were more two-dimensional, but when he began to notice the interplay between light and shadow across the surfaces, he decided to incorporate this as a visual tool. Chiaroscuro, the show’s title, refers to this phenomenon as an approach to pictorial representation. “I began drawing on the tradition of bas-relief sculpture and references to architecture emerged,” says Gaylord. “Living in New York City, I’m able to observe examples of high and low relief on the façades of skyscrapers, churches and municipal buildings, and certain features have made their way into my work. Through years of exploring the capabilities of the heavy paper I use, I have developed a visual vocabulary that draws references to these architectural motifs, as well as geometry, biology and anatomy.”

The two cast pieces are fabricated with marble powder suspended in resin, cast from the original paper constructions and recall the surfaces of stone reliefs carved into buildings. Some of Gaylord’s forms resemble glyphs or symbols from ancient cultures, while others seem modern or even futuristic. “I like to think of my compositions as a reference to the past while imagining the future,” he says. “I see parallels between the logic of human design and physical anatomy, plant life and other natural structures. I think of this work as a meditation on these connections, but also an attempt to find harmony among forms that otherwise appear idiosyncratic or strange (like the parts in our own bodies).”

Born in Washington, North Carolina in 1974, Jim Gaylord lives and works in New York. He earned his MFA from the University of California, Berkeley (2005) and his BA from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro (1997). His work has been exhibited internationally and is in the permanent collections of the Berkeley Art Museum, the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum and The Museum of Modern Art, New York. He has received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Joan Mitchell Foundation and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation. Gaylord has completed residencies at MacDowell, Yaddo and the Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program.

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