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Art professor debuts new collection
The room is completely still and quiet, the white walls clean and sterile. It’s a cold and flavorless environment but a prevailing sense of warmth emanates from the bright colors, the twisting imagery and the lush and lavish textures of 26 paintings. This is one of many contradictions present in Robert Jessup’s artwork.
UNT art studio professor Robert Jessup’s recent collection “Pictures and Stories” is now on display at the Conduit Gallery in Dallas. Jessup is a long-time painter and often displays his work at the Conduit.
“I wanted all of the paint applications – the marks, strokes, scrapes, jabs, and swipes – to land like the punches of a boxer,” Jessup said. “Spontaneity and control quit battling each other like mad boxers. They began to slow dance together.”
While maintaining the abstraction and surrealism of his former paintings, his technique is refined. Although he wants the pictures to have a spontaneous feel, he finds control and thoughtfulness play a valuable role in his technical process.
Mr. Jessup said the contradiction in form is intentional.
“There is a dance between abstraction and deliberation,” Jessup said. “The two realms reinforce each other.”
Jessup said he is “pursuing a picture,” meaning he feels the imagery is hidden in his mind and the painting process is a psychological journey, a quest to discover form and this journey is manifested on the canvas.
Danette Dufilho, Assistant Director and Project Room Curator for the Conduit gallery, said guest response to the show has been positive. An event held at the gallery to celebrate the opening of the show brought large crowds.
“Now those people are returning to the pictures on quiet days to experience the paintings in solitude,” Dufilho said.
UNT art professor Rachel Black visited the gallery for that purpose. She acknowledged Jessup’s clear notions of form, technique and imagery, but feels a sense of wonder and mystery.
“There is a fairy tale here, not recognizable by us,” Black said. “It’s something we each have to discover on our own.”
The show runs through February 16.