Over the span of five decades, Oliver Lee Jackson has developed a singular body of work, creating complex and layered paintings in which figural forms meld with abstract fields of vivid color. While tightly composed, Jackson’s paintings feel improvisational in approach, as gestural marks become intertwined with vivid swaths of paint and color. Building over time, each work becomes a synthesis of references that may span from the Renaissance to Modernism, filtered through what Jackson terms his 'African sensibility.' The resulting works eschew a single narrative or reading and instead seek to encourage the viewer to form their own emotional response. Creating multiple points of entry within each painting, Jackson states that his work is “for anybody’s eyes; any eyes will do.”
Oliver Lee Jackson lives and works in Oakland. Originally from St. Louis, Jackson was affiliated with the Black Artists Group, which was founded in St. Louis in 1968 as an interdisciplinary collective of musicians, actors, and visual artists. Earlier this year, Jackson’s work was the subject of solo exhibitions at the Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, MO, and the di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art, Napa, CA. Other past institutional exhibitions of Jackson’s work include the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, 2019, Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis, MO, 2012, Harvard University, Cambridge MA, 2002, University Art Museum, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1985, University of California Art Museum, Berkeley, 1983, Seattle Art Museum, 1982, St. Louis Art Museum, 1980, among others. His works are held in the public collections of The Metropolitan Museum, New York, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Museum of Modern Art, New York, The National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, Portland Art Museum, Oregon, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Jose Museum of Art, Seattle Art Museum, St. Louis Art Museum, Detroit Institute of the Arts, and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, among others.