Paintings and Paste-Ups by Jess at Tibor de Nagy * by Jenna Breiter

In his current show at Tibor de Nagy, Jess Collins articulates the decisively different mediums of painting and paste-ups—one heavy and inflexible, the other thin and free flowing.

Jess’ dense application of oil paint lends the heavy quality to his paintings. Layered thickly, these surfaces protrude from a two-dimensional level, their outward appearance bubbled and tactile. Although the paint varies in a spectrum of color, a duskiness pervades—a seriousness maintained by hard edges that delineate one color from the next and develop a puzzle-like veneer. The annexed colors create room for understanding the many pieces as solid, daring moments, like single puzzle pieces, and the paintings’ bold quality results from this structural composition as opposed to the color anatomy.

The paste-ups, in contrast, are fluid. Jess grouped selections of magazine cutouts with pages torn out of books and placed them strategically so their images overlap, interlace, and ultimately achieve a larger, grand impression. This medium remains two-dimensional, but the variability of the sprinkled collage pieces allows for an abstract, dense space to unravel as the viewer traverses the image. The paste-ups range in color as well, but instead of resting in a dusky hue, the natural aging of the found materials achieves a mellow tone. Ultimately lighter-toned than the paintings, the paste-ups appear unburdened and almost translucent in their subtlety. The latitude becomes a provocation for foreign, exotic thoughts.

On first look, the mediums divorce Jess’ work, but in paintings like “A Mile to the Busstop,” one finds cohesion between the two extremes. Here, he uses thinner paints and the more graceful image of a mother and son walking together. Smeared colors give the walk an immediacy of pace and punctuated side images of a goose and balloon become fleeting as their edges dance in synergy with the surroundings. This otherwise traditional oil painting opens for the viewer in much the same manner as it does with the paste-ups. In culmination, a metaphysical atmosphere flickers throughout the image, and the manipulated elements exude sensation and intensity.

The paintings and paste-ups of Jess Collins will line the walls of Tibor de Nagy through July 31st.