Soft spoken, thoughtful, and frank – Pasadena based artist Jeff Colson is a minimalist in every sense of the word.
Colson sculpts, paints and draws, but his most recent work, which is showcased at the COLA exhibit in Barnsdall Park, consists of modernist, minimalist sculptures carved out of wood, molded and then cast in resin and painted.
The pieces, named Blockhouse, Pavilion, Pentoga, Plinth and Redoubt each consist of small wooden planks stacked to create abstract blocks. While each barely resembles any real thing, they all come from a place in Colson’s memory.
“Pentoga references my mother, Arlene Berquist, whose family lived in Northern Michigan in a small hamlet named Pentoga. It was a mossy environment in a shack that almost looked like [this piece]. It’s like an autobiographical reference,” he said.
Colson spoke to his method of showing false expressionistic simplicity while concealing the true and treated form.
“Initially they appear to be furiously cobbled together pieces of wood which were stuck on a conveniently found piece of furniture. In reality, the displayed object is considered and constructed, cast in resin from flexible molds,” he said.
Colson not only creates the art itself, but the base’s that the forms lie on as well.
“The supporting object is also made up, maybe vaguely referencing something from memory. With this seeming offhanded pairing, think utopian architectural model on grandma’s little end table,” he said. “I like the idea of this collision of context where there’s a construction site on a domestic little table.”
Through each piece, Colson aims to suggest the idea of form without directly referencing it.
“Pavilion loosely references the World’s Fair Pavilion, so it has this optimistic architectural quality about it,” he said. “It almost suggest the idea of the future.”
Colson also attributes his Los Angeles background in influencing his art.
“I think being born in Los Angeles in the late 1950s, people my age grew up with an overwhelming feeling of limitless optimism and boundless technology,” he said. “Things became more complicated in the following decades leading to a decidedly tempered outlook. I think that sense of willed ambition and overriding feeling of futility has informed my work.”
We continued walking around the exhibition, circling around each of his pieces with great thoughtfulness. Into each one, he glared deeply. His eyes flamed with distant memories now cobbled around in his mind.
His thoughts were gathered and he kept his head down when speaking; his eyes telling a different story than his lips.