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JASON ROHLF: ARTIST OF TEXTURE
July 6, 2016
Meet Jason Rohlf: an innovative and talented artist of NYC, who continues to document visual sensibilities in his acrylic and collage paintings. Vibrant and beautifully textured, Jason Rohlf’s paintings are a continued exploration of surface and color, like an altered manuscript where traces of earlier layers are noticeable. Elements of collage and drawing are embedded in layers of varnish, obscuring lines and shapes that whisper secrets of their past lives. The end results are visual reminders or clues telling how important certain influences have been, including city streets, digital media, and maps. Over the years his process allows the work to act as a stop action timeline slowly revealing the newly favored elements and influences only to see them recede and evolve.
“Making navigational decisions is subjective to the individual and the inputs are sometimes contradictory. Through a combination of deliberate action and intuition, the works hope to reflect back the myriad choices we all are confronted with on a daily basis.”
– Jason Rohlf
Originally from Milwaukee, Rohlf studied at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and moved to Brooklyn in 1999. He has exhibited his work across the country, created a public installation for the MTA, lectured for the Pratt Institute, Bowling Green University and Lawrence University among others. He was recently awarded Sam and Adelle Golden Foundation for the Arts Artist in Residency and interviewed by MPTV’s The Arts Page.
“Field Guides” is Jason’s ongoing effort as an artist to collect and preserve his visual sensibilities, with each piece being the field for continued exploration as countless layers of collage, mediums, and acrylic paint coalesces to become a finished painting.
In a confluence of forms, he will develop lines and planes of color to delineate an intuitively created space. Almost in an effort to stamp some order in the chaos, geometric shapes will blanket the underpainting’s more organic textures. Relief pushes up from the underpainting, betraying the order, and light raking the surface reveals tension between the two. By drawing geometric maps into the work in ballpoint pen, he can assume the role of cartographer as well. The ink has the amazing ability to migrate up through multiple layers of acrylic, and, even if covered, will later reveal an earlier intention. It has the effect of allowing him to have a conversation with an earlier version of himself—a crude form of time travel perhaps.
The one thing Jason can count on—in defiance of his intent and regardless of how hopeful his expectations—each attempt will undergo many revisions as he participates in the creation of a piece, with the end result ideally being the cumulative effect of the whole and not just a working toward the outermost layer. Like a recalled memory, a once obscure thing, hidden elements from the piece’s past will form an essential role on the surface, often as a relief, while the most hard-fought details will likely earn a swift opaque top coat as a result of each day’s fits and starts. By conveying an urban palimpsest, many of the most thoughtful moments occur as these conflicting efforts achieve harmony and then begin to recede, resulting in the melding of competing ideas.
The end results will ideally continue to serve up a variety of visual reminders or clues telling of how important certain influences have been and, over time, where they led. Hopefully over many years, this process will allow me to imagine the body of work as a stop-action timeline slowly revealing the newly favored elements, only to see them diminish and evolve again as his changing guides and exposure leave their mark on his art making.
Jason’s revolutionary work is a modern and innovative take on painting with his interesting choice of materials and flare, making him a true contemporary artist, in every sense of the word. He has a full mind of ideas and self-expressions and is constantly striving for the pursuit of perfection. He is as much a skilled artistic professional as a truly unforgettable and capable human being. Jason is a true artist of not only painting but of interior design, innovation and lifestyle. As time goes on, he will continue to delve deeper into the multifaceted world of art by utilizing a wide range of mediums and taking an intimate approach to art direction and design. I for one am looking forward to seeing what he accomplishes next!