Soul Delay: An Artist’s Lush Abstractions of the Natural World Recall His Teenage Retreat

During his teenage years, while working on the Lost River in Lincoln, New Hampshire during the summer, artist Richard Jacobs would frequently jump from a waterfall and relax in the cool respite of a hidden cave. Through the gleaming mist and sheets of water, he watched as light and water interacted to create luminous prisms, hazy visions, and stunning optical illusions, which made him feel as though the “past, present, and future were interchangeable.” It is these sensory experiences drawn from nature that informed the Yale MFA grad in creating his energetic, layered, and abstract paintings. Several of these works will be on view in “Soul Delay,” Jacobs’s new exhibition in New York this fall at Jack Geary Contemporary.

Jacobs’s paintings have multiple layers and thicknesses of paint; several of them are striking exercises in texture and weight. He often spends more than a decade on his paintings, building them up before masking sections off and exposing his progress. Rain (2000-2013) is a sumptuous combination of dye, acrylic, and oil-on-canvas with large swathes that give way to watery layers of ink. A bold painted stroke is interrupted by twisting lines where masking was removed, revealing another painted layer underneath. A similar approach characterizes the painting Soul Delay (2000-2013), in which solid layers of red and yellow paint intermingle with more psychedelic gradients, restricted within large graphic shapes so that they appear like iridescent minerals trapped within a rock. His painting Storm (2014) is grittier in texture, resembling sediment being stirred up from the bottom of a lake. A surface of blueish green peels away to reveal a pink and tan underlayer, much like two rivers mixing together after a rainstorm.

Through his exploration of color, shape, and texture, Jacobs ignites our sense of touch and perception of the natural world. Each layer of paint adds depth both physically and metaphorically, while conjuring the romance of Jacobs’s teenage retreat.

Haniya Rae

Richard Jacobs: Soul Delay” is on view at Jack Geary Contemporary, New York, Sept. 12th,–Oct. 11th, 2014.

Follow Jack Geary Contemporary on Artsy.

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