Xylor Jane: Magic Square for Earthlings

January 13 – February 17, 2018



Los Angeles Times

Artforum: Critic's Pick



“Xylor Jane is medicine. Without knowing her systems but feeling them crinkling and singing whenever I look at her stuff, I simply feel better. She’s doing something about the world. It’s not left alone, it’s gauged, complete.” - Eileen Myles


Parrasch Heijnen Gallery is pleased to present Magic Square for Earthlings, the gallery’s first solo exhibition of new work by American artist Xylor Jane.

Xylor Jane paints systems-based constellations. Applying thousands of tiny dots articulated by pointed peaks, Jane explores vast textural and chromatic ranges orchestrating intensely intricate paintings referencing numerical, time-based, and other patterned systems. The artist’s images, painted on wood board, typically within the scale of a human torso, are pre-meditatively organized prior to her first application of paint.

Despite Jane’s highly precise and controlled process, her images are riotously unsettling to the point of appearing kinetic, connecting with the mystery and complexity of patterned structures found in some of the most ephemeral designs in the natural world. The artist’s focus upon symmetry leads her to explore complex strategies, such as prime number palindromes and the continuum between two numbers, that she resolves throughout various sections of a painting, establishing an absolute center, but one that is typically skewed and not necessarily in the middle of the picture. Like the fleeting patterns marked by legions of starlings in seemingly synchronized flight against an evening sky, Jane's images are as complex and indiscernible as they are optically tantalizing.

Jane’s surfaces, achieved through the application of miniscule markings and gestures of ink and oil of varied viscosity (the artist paints wearing a magnified visor), result in a dimensionality that highlights the physicality of painting itself, illuminating the medium’s status as a three dimensional vehicle. The result is a viewing experience that is mesmerizing. One’s eye focuses upon and jumps and scans these surfaces with the intensity of a hunter-gatherer drenched in visual stimuli.

Xylor Jane (b.1963, Long Beach, CA) received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1993. During Jane’s time at SFAI the epic 11 x 8 foot (and up to 11 inches deep at its thickest point) painting The Rose (1958-1966) by legendary Beat Generation San Francisco artist Jay DeFeo (1929-1989), was entombed in the McMillan Conference Room. What Jane calls “the Hunkering Monster buried in the walls” captivated her; she identified not only with its dense, intricate structure, but more concertedly with DeFeo’s devotion and care to a single work of art – a process that spanned more than eight years in the making, and many more to ensure its survival and conservation.

While DeFeo and other artists such as Alfred Jensen and Agnes Martin provided determinative influences, Jane references historic church sponsored genres for technical and visual problem solving, “scratching at the mechanics of Madonna and Child adoration paintings,” as she comments. Citing, for example, the portrayal of halos and light rays often painted in gold and patterned dots in church commissioned works, Jane responds with “patterns in quadruple reflection or double symmetry and haloed numerals shining from the infinity of time.”

In the front space, the gallery will concurrently present sculpture and works on paper by the late California Minimalist John McCracken (1934-2011) in direct historic conversation with Magic Square for Earthlings.

Xylor Jane: Magic Square for Earthlings will be on view at Parrasch Heijnen Gallery, 1326 S. Boyle Avenue, Los Angeles, from January 13 - February 17, 2018, with an opening reception taking place on January 13, from 6 - 8p.