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JASON YATES
at Barbara Davis Gallery through June 30th  
by Todd Camplin

Jason Yates’ work is an enigma I did not fully appreciate at first, but I kept coming back and
reading more about his process and the ideas behind his drawings and sculptures, which finally
won me over. I find that art I come to enjoy over time tends to impact me the most.

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previous articles
by Todd Camplin
Jason Yates is building myth and transcendence in each work. He approaches each piece
as a time consuming meditation through the use of drawing lines. Though similar to Jasper
Johns’ cross hatched paintings, Yates seems to be returning to the intent of the New York
School of abstract artists rather than a mocking criticism that Johns so famously laid on
the AbEx artists. Yates means to look inward, to become more self-aware. The lines are
repeated as if an obsessive prisoner scratches out the days on the prison wall. Yates
invites us to not only explore the surface, but like Lucio Fontana, he lets you look
behind the normally unseen space behind the mark making. Unlike Fontana, Yates
allows these cuts to become patterns that reflect the patterns of lines. He creates
a system of repetition upon repetition that draws you in further, while keeping you
guessing his motives.
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Jason Yates - Sex Prison
2012
acrylic on canvas with Mylar and copper armature
60 x 60 in.
Installation View
Snake Pit - 2012 - acrylic site-specific commission
Monk Box - 2012 - wood, paint, rope 26 x 26 x 14 in.
I think the large scale of the works accentuates the amount of time Yates spends on each
piece. The piece, “Snake Pit,” is a site specific piece that will likely be painted over at the
end of the show. It would seem he has created similar pieces in different spaces, but each
space dictates how Yates approaches the lines and zigzags. Yates generally sticks to black
and white lines, but in his piece “Sex Prison,” he uses a very pink palette. Instead of
meditative, this piece feels violent and the marks feel like slash mark wounds. I find it
easy to compare Yates’ work to artists in the past, after all, in his piece titled “Zombie
Stella,” he places himself along the canonized great artists. And why not, art history is
part of Yates’ myth building experience.
Jason Yates will be exhibiting his bigger than life work at Barbara Davis Gallery until June 30th.
This is the first solo exhibition for Yates in Houston, but I am sure it will not be the last. I am
excited to see what he will produce in the future.