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Review: Oliver Jackson at Metropolitan

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 25, 2008 - The large exhibition of Oliver Jackson's works at Metropolitan Gallery is a welcome sight.

Jackson, a St. Louis native, has been busy exhibiting painting and sculpture across the country, but hasn't had a show here in years. This exhibition represents his largest survey to date, comprised of 30 prints, paintings and mixed media works made between 1970 and 2007.

Jackson's full range of techniques is shown off to great effect in the painterly "Monotype III" (2006), in the busy lines of his intaglio and mixed media "Untitled Collage (4.25.01)" (2001), and the feathery bleeds of his watercolor and mixed media "Untitled Collage (4.14.98)" (1998).

Significant larger canvases are on view as well, including the powerful "Portrait of Julius Hemphill" (1973), a silvery-metallic tribute to the famous saxophonist, and a work from the "Sharpville Series" (c. 1970), featuring three running figures and riveting hot-pink border. (The latter work really anchors the show, which has been thoughtfully hung by the gallery's Giuseppe Pironi.)

Again and again, in every medium, the human figure and faces emerge from Jackson's compositions, resolving parts of the surface while allowing an organized, sumptuous chaos to reign everywhere else.

His expressionist passages are joyous and thoughtful, bringing to mind the lyricism of Helen Frankenthaler, while his graphic imagery is busy yet confident, poised, and human. When he brings these approaches together, the results are ecstatic.

See the Jackson show:

Through Oct. 10 | Metropolitan Gallery, 2936 Locust Street | 314-535-6500

Gallery Hours: Weds-Fri 11 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Saturdays by appointment

Ivy Cooper is an artist and professor of art history at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. 

Ivy Cooper
Ivy Cooper is the Beacon visual arts reviewer and a professor of art at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

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