Robert Jack

webs & flow

February 10 – March 31, 2001

123 Watts is pleased to present Robert Jack’s first solo exhibition, "webs & flow". It will be on view from February 10 to March 31, 2001 and will include twenty works on paper. Robert Jack was born in Connecticut in 1971. He lives in Brooklyn.

A frozen peace came after the cold war. A bipolar world threatening to turn into a homogenous Häagen-Dazs ice cream bar. But the new order has not been possible. In recent years, the plaNET has become populated with imperceptible signals of global warming.

Robert Jack classifies the new uncertainty. He's a taxonomist armed with a pencil, ink, casein or a wood burner who collects and dissects elements with meticulous care. He classifies what he doesn't understand. But these are not specimens he observed in nature, they are processed fragments of a reality he divides into fluids and grids, cracks and dendrites.

Nobody understands vanilla but its differences from chocolate seem obvious to the less discerning palate. Liquid documents or solid archives, rigid structures or smooth creams need to be deciphered in different ways. In his work, Robert Jack describes our inability to discern with infinite precision. The minimal variations in his drawings relate to structures, colors, textures and rhythms on paper.

His drawings intimately document our lack of relationship with signals that appeared recently. His eyes and works resonate with astonishment. He is astonished by the way the world works, seeing in its processes evidence of abstraction. He doesn’t reinvent the world so much as find a way through it, even if his path requires the image to remain ever so slightly off-kilter.

He shows us ways of seeing that incorporate dichotomies as a regular stratagem. His drawings activate a sense of nature by twisting, ever so slightly, the right angle of the template. They tie in with minimalism’s careful, considered procedures. Made with great labor they manifest a rejection, in basic ways, of the excesses of gestural art. Yet Robert Jack is not so much a theorist as he is a drawer of sensuous structures.

Grids define the blank space that faces him time and again. Their right-angled divisions create a tightly organized space, but sometimes he bends the grid ever so slightly, most likely to pay attention to an organicism large enough both to include the grid and manipulate it.

For instance in Construct in C (Slightly Torqued) (2000), he has slightly twisted the grid structure, which contains burn marks. Varying the burn marks density creates streaks and emphases that undermine the frozen geometry of the composition. Robert Jack is most interested in working out subtle systems, in which change is so slight as to be nearly imperceptible.