Jefferson's vibrant paintings and works on paper balance a line between figuration and abstraction, material experimentation and visual simplicity. For this exhibition, Upon A Slitted Sheet I Sit, paintings and collages in the artist’s studio get cannibalized and reworked. Boundaries are eaten and advanced as Jefferson bends towards and away from a personal vernacular while trying to refine and innovate his paintings. Beginning with abstract and geometric underpaintings, Jefferson then arranges cut pieces of painted canvas in layered, patterned constructions. Drawings from five years ago, pieces of old unstretched paintings, inspiration from his son’s drawings - everything is fodder for the process. The disparate parts become building blocks towards the synthesis of a dynamic new whole.
“I’m an additive artist not a reductive one. Collages and drawings hang about the studio, sometimes to be added later to another piece sometimes months sometimes years later. I find it’s important to let certain pieces ferment. So, in a way, my earlier work dovetails into my current work creating a multi-year build up. This merger between older work and new work helps me create a deep rich surface, which in turn helps create an image that is packed with the detritus of my older development. It generates a continuous link between old and new, enriches the structure and the overall image, and helps create a world that is strengthened by the process.”
Ultimately, the paintings are as much assembled as they are painted. Jefferson’s process of cutting and combining previously painted works together into a harmonious whole gives form to accident while also reinforcing a refreshing sense of playfulness in the work. The artist's unusual and unexpected color combinations further lend to the whimsical and unfettered quality of his paintings. By placing more value and focus on the studio alchemy, rather than on the results of his labor, Jefferson is open to the chance and magic that happens in the studio.
Josh Jefferson has been the focus of numerous articles, including a full feature in the April 2016 issue of Juxtapoz. He received the highest level of Artist Fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council in Painting. Recent exhibitions include solo shows at Steven Zevitas Gallery, Boston; Zevitas Marcus Gallery, Los Angeles; Gallery 16 in San Francisco; and TURN Gallery, New York City, as well as group exhibitions at Zieher Smith, Essex Flowers, and FMLY Projects in Partnership with Hashimoto Contemporary, New York City.