Chronological History of Jack Reilly's Art.
work reflected various influences of prominent artists of the time
including Frank Stella, Elsworth Kelly, Ron Davis, Jules Olitsky,
and Trevor Bell. Each of these painters dealt with aspects of structure,
color and ambiguous space; elements that would converge in Reilly's
early abstract paintings. Shortly afterreceiving his MFA degree from Florida State
University, in 1978 Reilly moved to Los Angeles and
his paintings quickly emerged on the L. A. art scene. By extracting
and redefining certain elements prevalent in contemporary abstract
art, Reilly's paintings commented on numerous formal and pictorial
issues of the era. The combination of linear structure and color
field painting with illusionary space resulted
in a unique synthesis of abstraction and pictorial depth, which
was sometimes refered to as "Abstract Illusionism." In
April 1979 Reilly's work was exhibited in his first solo show at
the Molly Barnes Gallery in Los Angeles. Simultaneously, Donald
Brewer, curator of USC Fisher Gallery, included Reilly's painting
in a major museum exhibition entitled "The Reality of Illusion"
an international survey of "Trompe l' oeil" in both abstract
and representational art. The exhibition debuted at the Denver Art
Museum and traveled for two years thereafter, often breaking attendance
records at museums throughout the United States.
(left) Installation view at the Denver Art Museum- Jack Reilly (L),
Vasa (C), and Ron Davis (R)
|By 1980 Reilly's new shaped-canvas paintings were represented in major American Cities including the molly Barnes Gallery, Los Angeles, Aaron Berman Gallery, New York, Foster
Goldstrom Fine Arts in San Francisco, Marilyn Butler Gallery, Scottsdale among others nationwide. Articles and reviews on Reilly's paintings
were subsequently published in Arts Magazine, Artweek, the Los Angeles
Times, and numerous other publications. In 1981 Reilly mounted a
total of five separate solo exhibitions, one of which traveled to
museums and galleries throughout the United States. Important Art
Collectors such as the late Fredrick Weisman and actor Steve Martin
were among the first to acquire Reilly's artwork. It was the
shaped-canvas paintings that launched Reilly into a new realm
of artistic development as he prolifically produced a variety of
compositions based around (what he referred to as) "a series
of pictorial events." These illusionistic paintings seemed
to jump from the wall towards the viewer while ironically
maintaining a sense of static balance. As time progressed, the new
paintings showed increasing deviations away from rigid formal compositions
and theoretical color, towards more expressionistic tendencies.
It was during this extremely prolific period that Reilly would develop
his unique "signature style," consisting of richly colored
line work, that appeared to hover over complex geometric shapes.
For the next few years, Reilly would produce hundreds of paintings
to meet the increasing demand for gallery and museum exhibitions.
Virtually every gallery exhibition was "sold out" to what
appeared to be a seemingly endless number of art collectors in pursuit
of Reilly's paintings. (left) Exhibition
at Aaron Berman Gallery, New York.
Fall 1983 the Stella Polaris Gallery in downtown Los Angeles
presented a solo show of Reilly's new "Dimensional
Paintings." Although many collectors seemed weary of the
changes in Reilly's new work, when the reviews came in, the new
large-scale abstractions were met with critical enthusiasm. A
single painting consists of numerous shaped canvases, layered on
top of each other up to five canvases deep. The polyester resin-based
colored sections were created independent from the canvas
structures and later attached with Plexiglas rods that physically
suspended the color an few inches in front of the canvases. There
were still shadows and space, but this time they were real. In 1985
art historian Edward Lucie-Smith included Reilly's new paintings
in his book "American Art Now." Comments by Lucie-Smith
addressed Reilly's approach to the innovative use of mixed-media
materials, combined with a "Baroque restlessness." Subsequently,
the Stella Polaris exhibition and Lucie-Smith's new book sparked
serious interest in Reilly's new dimensional paintings as collectors
soon purchased the entire body of work and numerous exhibitions
Exhibition view, Los Angeles.
have always been elements of classical art in Jack Reilly's
earlier abstract paintings. His work continuously reflected an affinity
for structure, balance, and visual order. In October 1989, the Boritzer-Gray
Gallery in Los Angeles presented Reilly's "Classic Series"
in a solo exhibition. As the art world was entering a new period
of pluralism, these eclectic paintings, which combined highly-rendered
classical subject matter with geometric abstraction on layered shaped-canvas
structures, were dubbed by one critic as "Quintessentially
Post Modern." This description also seemed to summarize the
plight of many contemporary artists in search for something new
and interesting during a sustained period of eclectic experimentation
in painting. Reilly's painting sales remained very active during
this period, as many new collectors entered the market looking for
unique and challenging imagery. For a number of years, Reilly exhibited
work that combined geometric abstraction and material-based, mixed-media
painting with classical painting and subject matter as can be seen continuing
through his "Endangered Landscape" and later "Convergence
"Viewers at Jack Reilly's exhibition: "Convergence Series."
For Reilly, the 1990s also yielded numerous large-scale
public art and corporate commissions with major pieces created for the County of San Diego Public Arts
Program and American Airlines at Los Angeles International Airport.
Shortly after completing three large public commissions, there was
a renewed interest in Reilly's abstract paintings based upon the
content of his earlier work. In 1993, Mumsey Nemiroff exhibited
Reilly's newest group of abstract shaped-canvas paintings in her
Los Angeles Gallery. During this prolific
period, Reilly's interests and artwork continued to evolve in scope
with the inclusion of a wider range of artistic media. In addition
to his ongoing work in painting, Reilly expanded his art and experimented
in the realms of film, video and digital imagery. The work was exhibited
internationally and subsequently led to numerous awards for his
work in experimental media. (left) Public Art Commission for San Diego
County, 10x40 ft., 4000 lbs. Enamel on 4 steel panels.
recent paintings are
quintessential examples of his attention to structure and detail,
combined with elements of randomness and serendipity. Each painting
consists of thousands of brushstrokes, painted in acrylic polymers
and metallic pigments on a shaped-canvas structure. Compositions
are based on a combination of mathematical and random geometric
designs that often result in a visual three-dimensional quality. Intuitive and theoretical color systems merge in linear
formats that respond to the shape of the canvas. Reilly's signature
brushwork has been compared to the complexity of Byzantine mosaics
and the luminosity of Gothic stained glass. The rich viscosity of
Reilly's paint mixture/concoction results in fluid, wet-looking
and reflective surfaces. These densely-polychromed structures incorporate
a cross-pollination of painting and sculpture, while reappraising
and commenting on evolving issues that originated in twentieth-century
abstract painting and continue into today's contemporary genres.
Today, Jack Reilly remains an extremely prolific painter and continues
to explore innovative ideas in 21st century contemporary art. "Challenging traditional boundaries and breaking with convention
is the real business of today's artist." Jack Reilly.
(left) Viewers at Jack Reilly exhibition, California Museum of Art, Thousand Oaks, 2016.
1979-2017 Jack Reilly Studio