Jay Zerbe's work is color. However simple this may seem, there is a complexity to his compositions that become evident with further study. Jay constructs collages as a process to explore his vision. The arrangement of colored paper shapes and textured, photographic forms creates a multidimensional weaving of space that he punctuates with drawing. The pieces are then finally linked together with staples which produce a tactile sense of space.
Collage is the reference for the first or base layer of his paintings. From that point, the paintings take on a life of their own. Jay describes how he arranges the shapes as "collage thinking". His interest is in how the color, edges and texture of those shapes overlap, interlock and juxtapose. Their placements dictate the rhythm, depth and direction for the eye to move within the composition. Jay thinks of it as "carving the space". Other elements contributing to the spatial qualities in the composition are the transparency, translucency and opaqueness of the paint. As well, drawn lines and/or elements tie or weave areas together.
The artist has stated that he enjoys building visual spaces that, although abstract, recall a hint of emotion. Couple that with what the viewer brings, the works reveal feelings of claustrophobia, safety, open horizons, brooding vistas, etc. These feelings engage the viewer to take a personal journey within the piece and wander through its spaces.
Having lived and worked in Chicago many years, Jay's roots are deep in the local art community. In recent years, he has actively exhibited his work at, for example, Tony Fitzpatrick's Big Cat Studio and Los Manos Gallery. He has also participated in exhibitions in Nebraska, Texas, California and New Mexico.
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