Paul Jenkins

Born William Paul Jenkins in 1923, the self-described "Abstract Phenomenist" gained attention for his post-war Abstract Expressionist paintings and association with the New York School. Raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Jenkins apprenticed in a ceramics factory and later studied at the Kansas City Art Institute from 1938 to 1941. After moving to New York, he began training under Yasuo Kuniyoshi at the Art Students League, where he met and befriended Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Jean Dubuffet, and Willem de Kooning. After Jenkins' first solo exhibition in Seattle in 1954, his work was gradually exhibited worldwide.

Explosions of color dominate the work from Jenkins' Phenomena series, for which he is perhaps best known. Started in the 1960s and visited often throughout the rest of his career, Jenkins balances the application of paint in conjunction with canvas manipulation to create metaphorical and spiritual ebbs and flows of opacity and transparency. Jenkins was a multi-media artist, poet, and playwright. He titled many of his works with the inclusion of the word "Phenomena." It was his intention to inspire the discovery of remarkable instances and forms created during the making of his art. He embraced chance and the experimental spirit of flowing paint.

For Jenkins, painting was a meditative, highly physical process. He would regularly pour paint directly onto the canvas and utilize non-traditional tools, such as an ivory knife, to control the flow and direction of paint. In the Phenomena series and other works, Jenkins sought to create translucent and opaque layers, the depth of which draw the viewer into the canvas. Jenkins' colors are vibrant and delicate, intermingling within his paintings. Overall, he endeavored to create compositions that suggest perpetual motion. Jenkins described his intuitive technique, stating: "I try to paint like a crapshooter throwing dice, utilizing past experience and my knowledge of the odds. It's a big gamble, and that's why I love it."

In 2012, Jenkins passed away following an illness in New York City. Today his work is included in the collections of various notable institutions, such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

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