Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Sam Jackson

Wandering around the Royal Academy Schools show last summer I was explaining my frustration of that year's graduate crop across London's art colleges to the curator Simon Rumley. Every year I scour each BA and MA show in London in search of new artists to collect, recommend and curate. In mid sentence I wandered into Sam Jackson's presentation. Hung in a single line across the four walls there must have been up to fifty pieces. Intimate works at no more than 15cm tall and ordinarily around 5 or 6cm, there was a combination of portraits and sexually explicit, often pornographic pieces. Painted in dark umbers and ochres with varying degrees of varnish on board, Jackson's works had an Old Masterly quality, despite obviously existing very much in the contemporary arena. I was immediately relieved and excited. Attending the works more closely it was evident that this artist had a raw energy that could be translated into tiny, powerful paintings. And not only this, they hovered between so many points: form and line; characterization; primary or secondary sourcing; time or timelessness; violence and transgression - all were alluded to in varying degrees, sometimes suggested, and occassionally described graphically. And therein lies the power of this artist - a sense of ambiguity that somehow contains so many possibilities that express something simultaneously human and animalistic that is evident by force in the artist and his work.

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