Through October 21st
Freight + Volume in the LES
Samuel Jablon, Unstung
By JEFFREY GRUNTHANER, October, 2018
Due to the way language materializes and dematerializes within his oeuvre, Jablon is often identified as a poet-painter. It has perhaps been noted less to what extent Jablon is actually something of a conceptualist. Previous bodies of work used glass and sequins very elaborately—a process the artist came to feel was too laborious. “I reached a point where using the same materials felt like work,” Jablon told me. “I felt as if I was going to work...cutting glass, laying it down, and gluing it to the surface.” The use of those materials gave his work a kind of sculptural fixity. With Unstung, however, form and color are unloosed from anything apart from the sheer expressivity of paint on canvas.
This transformation didn't come out of the blue; Jablon's current paintings seem like the inevitable outcome of a long developmental process. But I couldn't help but wonder if any personal experience motivated him to adopt a new kind of working method. "My work is always a reaction to my life," explains Jablon. "I went through some drama, some asshole hit me with a bottle, and it changed my outlook on a lot of things. But I don't think it necessarily was the root cause for change in the work; it was more of a catalyst."
Unlike previous shows, where each painting was a single poem in itself, Unstung maps out a wholisitc poem. This pervasive sense of wholeness speaks to a corresponding integrity underlying Jablon’s new creative process. What I’ve always liked best about Sam’s work is the way the act of painting words becomes framed as a sort of gestural line. The phrases he paints are something like a landscape, indicating ideas without actually representing them. Is it possible that future bodies of work might abandon language altogether? “The works always start out as abstract grounds,” he notes in answer to my question. “I've thought about doing shows with them, but I always get bored with them. The language keeps things fresh for me. I’m into ideas about erasure and erasing the language. I could see a series of those.” WM
Jeffrey Grunthaner is an artist-writer-musician-curator currently based in Berlin. Essays, articles, poems, and reviews have appeared via BOMB, artnet News, The Brooklyn Rail, Archinect, Hyperallergic, Heavy Feather Review, Folder, Drag City Books, and other venues. Recent curatorial projects include the reading and discussion series Conversations in Contemporary Poetics at Hauser & Wirth Publishers (NY).view all articles from this author