University at Buffalo - The State University of New York
Skip to Content
Official UB news and information for the media

UB Anderson Gallery: Paul Jenkins in the 1960s and 1970s: Space, Color and Light

Exhibition of works by American abstract expressionist runs through Aug. 22

Release Date: April 26, 2010

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo Anderson Gallery is presenting an exhibition titled Paul Jenkins in the 1960s and 1970s: Space, Color and Light through Aug. 22.

The gallery at One Martha Jackson Place (off Englewood Avenue between Main Street and Kenmore Avenue) is open Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 1-5 p.m. For information, call 716-829-3754.

The exhibition is free and open to the public, and is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with an essay by Sandra H. Olsen, PhD, director of the UB Art Galleries.

Jenkins is an American abstract expressionist who came to represent the spirit, vitality and invention of post-World War II American abstraction. He is known for his process of controlled paint-pouring, with which he produced brilliant, fluid jewel-like veils of transparent and translucent color.

The Jenkins exhibition runs concurrently with a second Anderson Gallery exhibition, "Under Each Other's Spell": Gutai and New York, featuring work by the Gutai Group from Paul Jenkins' collection.

The influential group, with whom Jenkins worked in 1964, was founded in 1954 in Osaka, Japan, by Jiro Yoshihara, who defined "gutai" as truth to the material of which art is made, and lifting that material to spiritual heights, something Jenkins certainly did with his preferred medium.

"Jenkins sought to sustain translucency and increase density in his color overlays, by exploiting the unique properties of the then-new water-based acrylic in 1960," Olsen says, "and it became his preferred medium for painting on canvas."

She points out that, in reviewing Jenkins' 1971-72 retrospective exhibition in Houston and San Francisco, art critic Alfred Frankenstein called him "one of those selected by fate to come into their own with the introduction of the acrylic medium. His mature work is inconceivable except in terms of acrylic, with its fluidity, its acquiescence in unconventional techniques and its special range of luminosity in color."

Contributing to the luminosity of his paintings, Olsen says, is the fact that Jenkins primes his canvases, which allows the poured pigments to pool and flow on the surface rather than soak into it.

Jenkins' work has been shown consistently in New York and international venues since the 1950s, but many of the paintings in this exhibit had not been seen since their debuts until they were exhibited last year in New York City.

For four years, Jenkins was a student of Japanese American painter, photographer and printmaker Yasuo Kuniyoshi at the Art Students League (NYC), and during those years was drawn to painters Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock, whom he came to know. He was soon drawn also to the works of Mark Tobey and met the artist in Paris in 1954.

His longstanding interest in Eastern religions and philosophy dates to his early years in Kansas City, Mo., where he frequented the renowned Asian collection at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. This, and his interest in Jung, prompted an inward, reflective turn in Jenkins which, along with mysticism, ultimately dominated his aesthetic and his life.

He developed many tools and approaches to paint application and, in 1958, began to guide the flow of the paint with an ivory knife, from which came the title of an award-winning documentary film ("The Ivory Knife") about Jenkins and his process, produced by Red Parrot Films, Martha Jackson Gallery.

Jackson, founder of the Martha Jackson Gallery in New York City, was a passionate collector and champion of abstract expressionism. She met Jenkins in Paris in 1954 and organized his first solo exhibition in New York in 1956. Thus began a long relationship with her gallery that lasted beyond her death in 1969.

Jackson was the mother of David Anderson, founder of the Anderson Gallery, which holds the archives of the Martha Jackson and David Anderson galleries.

Media Contact Information

Patricia Donovan has retired from University Communications. To contact UB's media relations staff, call 716-645-6969 or visit our list of current university media contacts. Sorry for the inconvenience.