Set-up with Creamer, oil on canvas
Keepers of the Light, oil on panel
There is always something arresting about the work of Richard Jenks, something which makes us pause and look again. It may be an unusual perspective, an unusual arrangement of objects, or an unusual combination of colors. The effect is subtle; the oddness of the work seldom shouts at us. Instead, we sense that there is something strange or enigmatic about the piece. Several examples should illustrate.
Gathering at the Night Light crams a number of objects into a nocturnal still life: a lamp, an ornate clock, and several figurines. Yet the intensely focused light against the backdrop of the darkened window gives the objects a magical quality. We keep looking for an indication that they are not, in fact, just objects. Another nocturne, Reflections in a Shipyard, also asks us to ponder just what about the image gives us a feeling of apocalyptic foreboding. The answer seems to lie in the indistinct nature of both the background landscape and of the reflection in the propeller blades. Our uncertainty about the image carries into an overall sense of discomfort and apprehension.
Sometimes, as stated, the enigma lies in the treatment of perspective. Looking Up Southbank seems, at first, a conventional landscape of stream and fallen tree. Yet, the tree recedes in a way which seems to deny the very stability of the ground on the far bank of the stream. As our vision follows the tree to the top of the painting, we almost feel that we are airborne and flying over the stream. A contrasting perspective is found in Sunspots, where our view is directly over the stream and fallen tree. Here the rocks, the ripples, and the ‘sunspots’ form seemingly abstract patterns beneath us, denying to some extent the reality of the scene.
It would be difficult to find a more unusual composition than Keepers of the Light, which was painted for a theme show at Oxford Gallery entitled Fiat Lux. This painting has no middle ground. The ‘in your face’ foreground is comprised of several antique lamps which, in their proximity to the viewer, are truncated top and bottom. The background is a dramatic seascape at sunset, and we are given no clue as to whether it is a real landscape or a painting within a painting. The unusual juxtaposition is rendered convincing– indeed strikingly beautiful – however, by the splendid color harmonies which carry from the lamps into the landscape, integrating the overall composition.
Breaking Through, oil on canvas on board
Late for School, oil on canvas on board
Between Gigs, oil on canvas
Broke Away, oil on canvas
Winter Stoppage, oil on canvas
Casting on the Independence, oil on canvas
Gathering at the Night Light
View from North End Island, Chases Lake
oil on canvas, 32 "x 38"
Directions, oil on canvas, 49" x 44"
Reflections in a Shipyard
Folly of War, oil on canvas
Looking Up South Bank
Prices available on request