Thursday, January 7, 2016

Summer 2015 Show at Stanford Art Spaces

Jamie Bollenbach:

We Will Never Not Have Been
18 Paintings from 2003-2015

Opening Reception: 4:30 PM, May 21st, 2015
Press Release:

PRESS RELEASE May 16, 2015
RELEASE DATE: 5/16/2015
DEWITT CHENG, Curator, Stanford (Univ.) Art Spaces 650-725-3622,
JAMIE BOLLENBACH, Artist, 206-650-0591,

Abstract Illusionism: Jamie Bollenbach and Yari Ostovany

Stanford Art Spaces is pleased to announce two May-June 2015 solo shows by eminent West Coast oil painters: We Will Never Not Have Been by Seattle painter and teacher Jamie Bollenbach; and Atmospherics, by Oakland painter Yari Ostovany. With the J.M.W. Turner Painting Set Free show coming to the de Young Museum on June 20, this is an ideal time to consider artists who share the English Romantic’s interest in capturing mood and atmosphere with color and gesture freed from restrictive naturalism and realism, and aspiring to the shock and awe of the Sublime. The term Abstract Illusionism was used in the 1970s and 1980s to describe a kind of contemporary trompe-l’oeil, fool-the-eye paintings; realistic shading and pictorial space were employed for abstract expressionist paint blobs and drips, creating a kind of hybrid of abstract and realist art. I use the term here to suggest the dual nature of these works, hovering between abstraction and representation. Bollenbach’s eighteen paintings—half of them never before exhibited— belong to a series that began in 2003 entitled The Amplitude of Time. He writes:

Many of these paintings look abstract, but they begin as portraits worked from life in my studio in Seattle: direct observation of a person blended later with the uncertain memory and re-imagination of that experience. This artwork can only come into its nature because of the real time spent with that person. Often the model saw the work in the making and moved or even danced, which also built some of the abstract forms lines of the composition. The paintings were often worked long after the first sessions, trying to locate, in William Blake’s phrase, “eternity in an hour.”

My review of his 2011 show at Noma Gallery in San Francisco:

Seattle painter Jamie Bollenbach exhibits sixteen paintings that began with that traditional cynosure of male artists, the female nude, and evolved during the painting process into abstract landscapes or skyscapes — swelling, undulating membranes or tissues composed of flickering, fluttering black and white brushstrokes in perfect balance: M.C. Escher meets Roberto Matta. The artist’s multiple responses to the motif (“sound, scent, color, glimpses and memories of intense but uncertain emotions – fluid, eternally transforming, winking in and out of being”) are recorded in works like “Population,” “Forms of Man and Woman Against a Cyclic Landscape,” and “Priscilla I.” As a group they stand midway between figure-based abstraction (from cubism, futurism, and abstract expressionism) and ambiguous figuration (from surrealism). Bollenbach, who studied with the contemporary portraitist Ann Gale, takes her analytical, fragmentary approach — it’s also that of C├ęzanne and Giacometti — and uses it to explore the “inscapes” of the psyche. A pair of World War II sky paintings (“The Bombers” and “Americans’ Planes Are So Much Prettier Than the Germans’”) featuring minute but deftly summarized B-17s (which veterans in Seattle and elsewhere are quick to decipher) summon historical memory. The title for the show derives from Walt Whitman’s poem, “Song of Myself:”

“To me the converging objects of the universe perpetually flow,
All are written to me, and I must get what the writing means.... I laugh at what you call dissolution,
And I know the amplitude of time.” (

Bollenbach’s richly textured canvases contain thousands of discrete marks laid down over lengthy periods, “the visual traces of a living, breathing person,” but venturing “beyond the surface of resemblance, [incorporating] abstraction as visual music, as tone and description and mood…. The ancient tools — the mud of paint, the hand and eye, the play with the flat space that looks infinitely deep — reveal aspects of our being and our relationships that cannot be approached any other way…. directly observed/imagined paintings- built over time, rather than taken mechanically all at once, have always folded the amplitude of time into their subjects.”

Jamie Bollenbach began painting in the early 1990s in the Bay Area and received his MFA in Painting from the University of Washington in 2002, where he maintains his studio practice, and has taught contemporary painting, drawing and life-drawing, and color and design with the UW School of Art, and numerous Puget Sound institutions. His work is collected nationally and he has shown all along the West Coast, including SF-MOMA and Seattle Art Museum’s artist galleries, as well as the solo show, The Amplitude of Time, at NOMA gallery in San Francisco.


There will be a reception for the artists on Thursday, May 21, from 4:30 to 7:00pm, in The Center for Integrated Systems in the Paul G. Allen Building. The exhibition contines in the adjacent Daid W. Packard Electrical Engineering Building. which will also be open. Please see for maps and directions. Parking at all university lots and structures is free after 4:00. Several venues for art are only a short walk from Stanford Art Spaces. Please see and The Cantor Arts Center and the newly opened Anderson Collection, next door, are only one block north of SAS; both are open until 8:00 pm on Thursday nights, with free admission.


Stanford Art Spaces is an exhibition program serving the Paul G. Allen Building, housing the Center for Integrated Systems, the program’s longtime sponsor, and the David W. Packard Electrical Engineering Building, with smaller venues located throughout campus. All are open during normal weekday business hours. For further information, or to arrange a tour, please
contact Curator DeWitt Cheng at 650-725-3622 or

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