In his recent paintings, Jason Karolak continues to develop a series of geometric, yet personal profiles. The work in Slow Talkers reflects a studio practice fully rooted in drawing—both in sketchbook and ink on paper formats—where ideas are filtered from specific events and experiences that occur outside of the studio. They are distilled, morphed and reduced through explorations of structure, form and composition. It’s a conscious process connected to physicality and body movement. There is a fluidity with which he moves from idea to idea in the drawings; the paintings that grow out of this course have a similar directness and clarity. Though carefully made, the canvases are unlabored and efficient. The process allows him to keep pace with his ideas while creating a diverse yet clearly defined lexicon.. A wall of paintings feels like a collection of drawings where variations and possibilities move in related, but different directions. The work maneuvers, but may not have a specific destination in mind. The vocabulary isn’t closed; instead, it’s contingent, notational and schematic.
Different from his drawings, the paintings focus on the organization and application of color. Although some art historians have seen line and color as oppositional elements, for Karolak, they are a unified entity—structure, light and color are interdependent. In the last two years the paintings have become more reduced. With a desire to focus the energy of the color into a primary element, he slows down the speed of interpretation to allow the viewer to see and feel how color affects and functions. He’s thinking about its aural qualities, its speed. He’s looking at how it relates to physical or digital light; how it resonates through popular culture or design; and especially how it transmits sensation.
Slow Talkers reflects a complex system of strategic modifications that simultaneously expresses the pure joy of visuality in painting. The work here is evidence of a dedicated and focused young painter who continues to fully invest in and problematize the rich language of his chosen medium.
Jason Karolak is a painter living in Brooklyn, New York. He has had solo exhibitions at McKenzie Fine Art and Massimo Audiello in New York, and Robischon Gallery in Denver. Group exhibitions include Kavi Gupta and Corbett vs. Dempsey in Chicago, and Novella and Cuevas Tilleard in New York. His work has been reviewed in Art in America, ARTnews, Chicago magazine, The Chicago Tribune, Hyperallergic, New City and The New York Times. Karolak earned a BFA from Pratt Institute in 1997 and an MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2006. He is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Art at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.