Slanted and Enchanted: The Wonders of Jeffrey Simmons’s Watercolors
Jeffrey Simmons’s show Watercolors refuses to conform to the expected behavior of its medium. Where watercolor works traditionally speak a nebulous language of soft borders and fading hues, Simmons’ works on paper in his seventh solo show at Greg Kucera Gallery articulate strong colors and fine lines with the utmost precision. Even when the color bands within his abstracted forms blur, their gestures radiate with strict intention. Simmons’s geometric shapes distill the wondrous perfection of a prismatic glare or a stretching rainbow into works whose seemingly straightforward quality proves to be a mere mirage. - Erin Langner, Seattle Contributor
Jeffrey Simmons. Palindrome I, 2012, watercolor on paper, 15 x 6.25 inches each (15 sheets), 45.5 x 32.25 inches total. Image courtesy of Greg Kucera Gallery.
Jeffrey Simmons. Palindrome I (detail), 2012, watercolor on paper, 15 x 6.25 inches each (15 sheets), 45.5 x 32.25 inches total. Image courtesy of Greg Kucera Gallery.
The multicolored palette that permeates the artist’s watercolors at first seems too easy, like the windsocks of a Midwestern craft show or the ending of an animated classic. But, when digested slowly, one by one, they change your mind. The delicate, contrasting rings of the Echo Pulse II and Resonator series visually buzz in the back of the eye, giving an immediate sense of depth as their forms levitate above the page. The slanted rectangles of Stack II never seem to be in the same order after looking twice. Their illusion shifts seamlessly: what was once dominance by chartreuse becomes a flash of Day-Glo pink. Exponentially larger in scale and impact, the multi-paneled Palindromes are nearly immersive in their effect, their detailed forms combining into a vibrancy that brings the eye to the brink of overstimulation as it chases these pops of optic splendor around the circular path like the chaser lights of a marquee.
Jeffrey Simmons, Echo Pulse II, 2012, watercolor on paper, 15 x 10.75 inches. Image courtesy of Greg Kucera Gallery.
Jeffrey Simmons, Stack II, 2011, Watercolor on paper, 16 x 11.25 inches. Image courtesy of Greg Kucera Gallery.
Taken in together, Simmons’s various watercolor series evoke the sense of an experiment. Moving between the Palindromes, Resonators, Stacks, Rotations, Circuits and Echo Pulses brings back the uninhibited joy of childhood science centers, where prisms magically bleed from black lines on filter paper at one station while another offers shadows in a spectrum of colors. The perfection of precision never ceases to pleasantly surprise the senses, making Jeffrey Simmons’ Watercolors one of the few addictive stimulants we never have to quit.
Jeffrey Simmons, Palindrome II, 2012, watercolor on paper, 15 x 6.25 inches each (10 sheets), 34.25 x 36 inches total. Image courtesy of Greg Kucera Gallery.
Jeffrey Simmons. Rotation I, 2010, Watercolor on paper, 15 x 11.25 inches. Image courtesy of Greg Kucera Gallery.
Jeffrey Simmons, Three Rotated Forms, 2012, watercolor on paper, 30 x 22 inches. Image courtesy of Greg Kucera Gallery.
Watercolors is on view at Greg Kucera Gallery in Seattle, WA through February 16. Jeffrey Simmons was born in Cincinnati, OH and currently resides in Seattle, WA. He received his BFA in painting and drawing from the University of Michigan. His work has recently been featured at ICPNY Gallery (New York), Boise Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, and Texas State University, among many other locations. He was an artist in residence at the Bellevue Art Museum in Bellevue, WA and received the Betty Bowen Committee Special recognition Award from the Seattle Art Museum.
Erin Langner is a writer based in Seattle and is Manager of Adult Public Programs at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM).