Jeff Colson “Roll Up” 2012, carved and painted wood construction, 96 X 120 inches
An exhibition devoted to one monumental artwork and supportive drawings.
“Roll Up,” is a figurative sculpture of carved and painted wood. This “archetypal suitcase” is presented as a partially opened door of a storage unit replete with everyday items such as file cabinets, an ironing board, lawn chairs, a tire, a stereo receiver, plastic containers, and other durables of consumer culture. Colson notes, “The storage metaphor is an existential conundrum, the half-baked notion that if we get all our things in order we might actually keep living indefinitely. There is a furious futility to this accumulation of ‘stuff,’ the overabundance of questionably essential choices, and thinking these things just might come in handy sometime in the future.”
The artist’s approach is a “memory-based idea with all its distortion,” as constructs of the work are biographical from memory. Individually forged through Colson’s own hand-crafted devises, the elements are carved, cut, sawed, sanded, painted, welded, and molded to replicate a relief of modules customized to fit snuggly within the confines of this manufactured receptacle.
The process is instinctual, immediate, and spontaneous yet expendable. Rather than appropriate an existing object, Colson makes it up as he goes along, choosing to rely on a stream of consciousness methodology, which reveals interpretive flaws that intentionally lack hyper-realistic qualities. “I like working that way,” the artist insists, adding, “there is an expedience to quickly knocking something out, as opposed to relying on what you happen to find.” Colson’s intent is not one of anti-reality, or a statement against ready-made or found objects. Nor is it a defensive gesture in reaction to art market trends or the world in general. His acumen is organic, efficient, and honest.
“Roll Up” is a continuation in a body of work that the artist has been developing for the past decade. Autobiographical in nature, Colsonʼs work is created from memory rather than existing objects and wields material in a way that is both transcendent and humorous. Distortion and inaccuracy play a role, which he refers to as “wobbly logic.”
Jeff Colson grew up near the oil fields just north of Bakersfield, California. His father was a social worker whose do-it-yourself aesthetic, making everything from toys to homemade life jackets, informed Colson’s own identity as a “crackpot tinkerer.” In his sculpture, Colson refers to both that quirky, by-the-seat-of-your-pants decision-making process and Modernism’s purist grid. The sculptures are fabricated from both personal and cultural memory, often without referencing specific objects or images. The resulting forms are familiar, but aren’t real. The ambiguous quality of the “fabricated” object that is real and isn’t “real” registers the distortions of memory on “remembered” images and/or events. Colson’s sculptures are physical documents of remembered reality. The sense of history is also literal as each piece can take months, even years to make.
Jeff Colson graduated from California State College, Bakersfield. His work is in the Collection of Count Giuseppe Panza di Buomo at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles; the Sammlung Rosenkranz Foundation in Wuppertal, Germany; the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California; and in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s permanent collection.
Jeff Colson was recently awarded a 2012 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship and a 2015 City of Los Angeles (C.O.L.A.) Fellowship
The artist lives and works in Pasadena, California