JERNIGAN WICKERFINE ARTS
& Anne Gillen
Artist Biographical Information
MA University of California at Berkeley
PRIZES AND GRANTS
University of Pittsburgh, Hewlett International Study Grant
VISITING ARTIST LECTURES
1986 California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA
SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS
Jernigan Wicker Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
Concept Art Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA Concept Art Gallery, Pittsburgh,
1993 Clark, Vicky Degrees of Abstraction, Three Rivers Art Festival, June, catalog Miller, Donald "Art", Pittsburgh Post Gazette, June 27 Shefler, Laura The eyes of the Beholders, "Pitt Magazine", March 1988 Curtis, Cathy In the Galleries, "Los Angeles Times", January 18 1987 Gimelson, Deborah It's All Relative, "Art and Auction", March 1986 Quinn, Joan L.A., "Art and Auction", November 1978 Bell, Tiffany John Gillen, "Arts Magazine", September Frank, Peter Art, "The Village Voice", May 17 1973 Johnson, Charles New Talents Freshen Scene, "Sacramento Bee", April 22
Ann Neale Gillen
Born in Santa Monica, California
University of California, Berkeley, 1969, Rhetoric
Jernigan Wicker Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA
Permanent Collection, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA
Sheena, Pittsburgh Biennial, exhibit catalogue, Pittsburgh Center
for the Arts, PA,
We've been collaborating on the production of these paintings for several years now. The geometric compositions provide a format within which we can explore various color interactions and surface effects. The paintings are constructed of individual wood panels which are surfaced with a technique using pigmented gypsum. The panels are then joined together to complete the work. The work has been influenced by the art and architecture of the Mediterranean world that we have viewed firsthand.
We met in graduate school at the University of California at Berkeley. We lived in San Francisco for awhile and then moved to New York where we spent eight years. We later lived in Los Angeles, then Pennsylvania and have recently returned to Northern California where we live with our two daughters.
We've shared studios as well as esthetic concerns for such a long time that to collaborate seemed a natural development. We feel that this symbiosis has resulted in work that is stronger than our individual efforts. For us this collaborative process is analogous to the creative synthesis that occurs within a group of musicians.
On many levels, the work of collaborators Ann and John Gillen exists in a liminal zone between two worlds. It is neither pure painting nor pure sculpture, yet it is both. It is the product of neither Ann nor John alone; rather, it is conceived in a commingling through which the two creators become one. And lastly, order and chaos both exert their influence on these panels of improvised surfaces joined into hard-edged geometrical compositions. In short, this work grows out of, and embodies, paradox.
The Gillens use the language of color and geometry to speak about elusive subjects such as consciousness and perception. "In a way, our work is the opposite of abstract," says John. "We are not interested in mimicking the visual world by painting realistically. Instead, our work is about exactly what you see a set of idealized relationships between shapes and colors," he says. By offering these formal relationships for us to delve into, the Gillens invite us to enter and explore an altered state of purer consciousness where the overwhelming complexity of life is pared down to essentials. To enter the world of their work is to exist suspended even if for a just a moment in the midst of the basic relationships that reflect the dynamic harmonies evident in the world.
To further illuminate the Gillens¹ project, we can make a comparison between the structure of their work and the structure of music. In an orchestral performance, individual instruments blend to create a complex superstructure of sound through which we can aurally apprehend the mathematical relationships among tones (harmony) and patterns (rhythm). The Gillens¹ project explores the same mathematical intervals, but they use color as their "tones" and shapes as their "rhythm."
What is the nature of these relationships? "Returning again and again to geometry is like a mantra to me;" says Ann, "through my work, I can refocus on essentials." John feels a philosophical affinity with Modernist painter, Piet Mondrian, whose geometric paintings also employed minimal means to symbolize the interplay of opposing forces he saw as the basic structure of the world. Similar oppositions between vertical and horizontal, figure and ground, and complementary colors make up the Gillens¹ basic visual vocabulary. Yin and yang, used in China to symbolize the interdependent duality of oppositional forces which beget the world, dance mischievously behind the Gillens¹ subtle shifts in composition and color.
Even the process by which the Gillens produce their work mirrors this interplay of opposites. "Sometimes we disagree as we work together," Ann admits. "In the end, though, we always agree when a piece is resolved. At times it can be a struggle to work together, but what we create is stronger because of the interchange involved," she says.
To digest this series is to spend time in careful observation. Engaging with these works means charting the harmonies and rhythms created within each piece, while also noting how these shift between pieces. The key to these works lies in the provocative relationships between the parts, which are, in the end, inseparable from the whole.