Jonathan Collis
Artist Biographical Information


born in 1976 in Eden, North Carolina. He received his BFA in painting and printmaking from the University of Oklahoma in 1998. During that time he studied under the Cheyenne artist/activist Hachivi Edgar Heap of Birds, who introduced him to Native American and Eastern philosophical traditions.
2001 Masters of Fine Arts in New Genres at the San Francisco Art Institute.


A symbol is alive with the power of communication when it touches both the immediacy of the actual world and the reality of the inner world. The central instrument to any creative vision comes from within and without, taking place in an instant, being both sharper and deeper than any process of thought or extension of feeling.

The Madellena Series is a meditation on my experience of the Oklahoma landscape and pays homage to the painter Mark Rothko, whose chapel in Houston, Texas influenced me deeply during that time in my life. The simple relationship between sky and earth provides a metaphor to lifešs boundaries that, like the horizon, seem to move as we move.

Introductions 2001, July 5 - 28

Each month, Artweek Editor Berin Golonu highlights selected exhibitions from venues listed in the Artweek Calendar.

Jernigan Wicker Fine Arts has demonstrated a predisposition towards the painting medium in their selection of artists for this year's Introductions exhibition. Justin O'Neill and Jonathan Collis approach their craft from similar directions but come to widely divergent conclusions. Whereas O'Neill's brightly colored, thickly layered paintings emit a clamorous vibrancy, Collis's spare, diagrammatic compositions are quiet contemplations on the philosophy of the I-Ching. O'Neill draws (quite literally) from the lineage of Abstract Expressionism. Her latest series, titled The Motherwell Paintings, consists of large-scale canvases appropriating outline tracings of the paint blobs found in this well-known artist's most cherished canvases. O'Neill has reworked these shapes, retracing their outlines in glowing hues and incorporating enough texture into their confines to give them the appearance of topographical maps evoking bird's-eye views of land masses floating in an electric-colored sea. Having studied the I-Ching for several years, Collis is concerned with investigating the various methodologies philosophers invent to try and lend a sense of order and understanding to the chaos of the world. The artist has devised his own diagrammatic system to help him best encapsulate the philosophy of the I-Ching. Trigrams and hexagrams come together in complicated interweavings of dotted patterns in hushed hues that display a perfectly suspended balance of harmony.

Works by Justin O'Neill and Jonathan Collis are on view July 5-28 at Jernigan Wicker Fine Arts, 161 Natoma St., San Francisco. Information on the other galleries participating in Introductions 2001 can be obtained through the San Francisco Art Dealers Association's Web site at