San Francisco

Jack Scott

William Sawyer Gallery

Working on large (8 1/2 by 9 feet) unstretched canvases, Jack Scott draws charcoal arcs in a freehand style. Through placement and density the arcs create patterns of light and dark, vibrating with a luminescence unanticipated by the rawness of the materials. In previous works the arcs coalesced into amorphous forms—romantic sensations suggesting clouds, smoke or fog. With his recent works Scott introduces a concrete graphic form, large bisecting arcs that are giant magnifications of the minutely rendered arcs. Environmental romanticism yields to a bolder sensibility, as these shapes bear relationship to configurations favored by Minimalists and hard-edge abstractionists. However, Scott’s web of soft, undulating arcs subverts the large-scale coolness of the primary form. In this sense the artist’s works remind one of Rothko, whose monumental forms were also conceived through a diffused or soft-edge development.

The five large-scale works on view counterpoint positive and negative forms. In three of the pieces Scott builds black skeletal structures out of the white canvas, while in the other two compositions white shapes emerge from black space. The form itself changes position from one canvas to the next, and within the confines of the gallery becomes kinetic. The black on white forms seem most related to Scott’s previous works. In the white form emerging from black space the graphic element dominates the composition, often overwhelming the delicate rendition in the negative areas.

The method of building up freehand forms is remarkable considering the massive scale favored by the artist. From this standpoint his drawing seems imbued with a medieval intensity, displaying a feeling for concentration and handcraft that is often absent from contemporary art.

Hal Fischer