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Artist's Biography - Paul Jenkins
Paul Jenkins
When internationally acclaimed artist, Paul Jenkins was asked how his paintings might be interpreted if they were found in some cave or cellar 20 years in the future, he replied, “They might be construed as religious pictures, as twentieth century altar paintings.” He went on to say, “I don't paint what God did %96 I paint what God is to me.” It would appear color also is paramount, and Jenkin's work makes colors hypnotic.

Paul Jenkins, an abstract painter of the New York school, was born in Kansas City in 1923. In early adolescence, he worked weekends and summers as an assistant mold maker and later attended the Kansas City Art Institute to study drawing and painting. After trying his hand at the theater for several years, a move to New York City in 1948 found him involved with the Art Students League. It was while in New York that he became acquainted with the early abstract expressionists such as Jackson Pollock, who were to greatly influence his work and ideas. In 1953 Jenkins went to Paris to further his development as an artist. Since that time he has divided his time between New York and Paris %96 six months on each continent.

Jenkins rarely uses a brush, preferring to manipulate the paint with a stick, controlling its flow, allowing it to spread into thin membranes of color or saturate the canvas, as he feels inspired. Time Magazine (April '61) describes his liquid form technique as a “triumph”. He “dribbles” paint onto a loose, unstretched canvas, swooshes it around %96 sometimes kneads and hauls on the canvas as if it were a sail%85the colors float into view as if they had been poured like cream into iced coffee and for a moment suspended. They merge or resist one another, but are never smeared.” Even when dry, Jenkin's paintings manage to look fluid. The New York Post has described them as “explosive eruptions of paint and passion: intense attacks upon canvas without any holding back.” Jenkins himself refers to his work as “events” or “phenomena.”

Since 1959 Jenkins has title his paintings “Phenomena” accompanied with a word or phrase that serves to sum up, in shorthand, his feelings about the work. The word phenomena occurred to him as he was finishing a painting which had developed without a preconceived idea. He feels his work is more of a sensory experience to be perceived not only with the eyes; “Our light world is caught in refraction, interpenetration. Sometimes we really wonder if we are seeing what we are. The retina is no longer the mainspring of our total perception, and we cannot be confined to this outmoded thought.” He goes on, “Sometimes it seems as though I am keeping a storm door shut with one hand while I am painting with the other, in order to keep the known out so that the unknown may enter.” Jenkins is both mystical and pragmatic, interested in the occult, astrology, alchemy, Zen Buddhism and Jungian psychology. He says, “The adventure is to distinguish the real universe of ourselves from the other one we reel through.”

Paul Jenkins has won many awards on both continents. Most leading American museums as well as major contemporary European museums recognize him as one of the leading American artists of today by acquiring and frequently exhibiting his work. Jenkin's paintings hang in practically every major private collection in contemporary art in this country. Several books have been written about him and he is listed in “Who's Who in American Art.”

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