paintings of Paul Jenkins have come to represent the spirit, vitality,
and invention of postWorld War II American abstraction. Employing
an unorthodox approach to paint application, Jenkins's fame is
as much identified with the process of controlled paint-pouring
and canvas manipulation as with the gem-like veils of transparent
and translucent color which have characterized his work since the
in Kansas City, Missouri in 1923, Jenkins was raised near Youngstown,
Ohio. Drawn to New York, he became a student of Yasuo Kuniyoshi
at the Art Students League and ultimately became associated
the Abstract Expressionists, inspired in part by the "cataclysmic
challenge of Pollock and the total metaphysical consumption of
Mark Toby." An ongoing interest in Eastern religions and
philosophy, the study of the I Ching, along with the writings
of Carl Jung
prompted Jenkins' turn toward inward reflection and mysticism
which have dominated his aesthetic as well as his life.
of St. George, 1968 typifies the mature, developed style
of the artist. It was created when Jenkins was celebrated as
of Post Painterly Abstraction, that umbrella term applied by
Clement Greenberg to describe the post-Abstract Expressionist
to painting characterized by "color fields." These
architectonic works were generally cool and even minimalistic,
lacking the highly
personal linear gestures and tactile ' surfaces associated with
abstract painting in the fifties.
employment of titles, although generally intended to "secure
an attitude toward the painting rather than provoke visual effects
might, in the case of Side of St. George, 1968, suggest
a more literal interpretation. In structure, the broad pours and
linear elements subtly recall the classical Christian metaphor
of good versus evil and the striking movement of the sword of the
British Knight, St. George, as he slays the fire-breathing dragon.
Formally, the work's rather symmetrical composition is not unlike
St. George's cross which serves as the identifying emblem of the
flags of the United Kingdom.
while Side of St. George, 1968 in title and structure might
encourage such narrative interpretation, it is more about formal
interplay, the dynamics of color and the nuances of edge. In many
ways Jenkins' paintings from this period extend the explorations
of Leonardo da Vinci, who, in his last years, examined such unseen
forces of nature as wind and ocean currents. Side of St. George,
1968, so typical of the artist's work of this period, might
be thought of as a visual poem that brings to light both the
and the spiritual forces which guide man and his creative energies.
Jenkins' art has always served to respond to the larger questions
which confront us."