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Jimi Gleason: Prima Materia



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Saturday, 15 October 2022 to Saturday, 3 December 2022
Saturday, 15 October 2022 - 5:00pm to 8:00pm

“‘When Narcissus died, the pool of his pleasure changed from a cup of sweet waters into a cup of salt tears.’ The Lake explained: ‘But I loved Narcissus because, as he lay on my banks and looked down at me, in the mirror of his eyes I saw ever my own beauty mirrored.’” — Oscar Wilde, “The Disciple”

Santa Monica, CA, September 15, 2022- The William Turner Gallery is pleased to present the solo exhibition, Jimi Gleason: Prima Materia.

In Wilde’s version of Narcissus, the beautiful boy who falls in love with his reflection and drowns in it, is himself, a vehicle for the Lake to realize its own beauty. The two were parts of a whole, completing the other in a ‘oneness’ of synergism. This too was the objective pursued by medieval alchemists. In their quest to transform base metals into silver and gold, these proto-chemists were ultimately exploring a transcendental state of universal symbiosis. The idea was to ascertain the metaphoric principle of an omnipresent ‘oneness’ performed and exhibited in the material world through this transmutative process. Jimi Gleason’s experimentations in painting run tandem to undercurrents of alchemy's microcosmic investigations into the nature of matter, and macrocosmic inquiries beyond the material world. He is reimagining and redefining the properties of the painted plane through challenging the limits of abstraction.

The alchemists in their ‘Magnum Opus’ sought to cipher a ‘Philosopher’s Stone,’ a mythical substance which would not only convert common metals into precious ones, but was the key to formulating the ‘Elixir of Life,’ resulting in immortality/eternal youth/spiritual emancipation. For Gleason, his prima materia is a solid bar of silver which is dissolved in concentrated nitric acid. Once the nitric acid has evaporated, the compound element, silver nitrate (AgNO3) a white, powdery solid remains. Silver nitrate is mixed with sodium hydroxide to create silver oxide which is dissolved in ammonium to create a compound that can be applied to the surface of the canvas with, in Jimi’s case, an airbrush. This industrial coating method is highly toxic, and physically demanding in its labor, characteristic of West Coast Minimalist’s and the Light & Space movement’s interests in exploring industrial materials and processes.

Harnessing the technologies of both the physical and chemical properties of metal, Gleason wields them onto the canvas, draped in lustrous pools of mercurial gilding. The reflective qualities of Jimi Gleason’s aniconic surfaces are mutable according to their environment and the viewer is presented with an experiential meditation with themself, while the two-dimensional surface is brought to life. Analogous to the dynamic between Wilde’s Narcissus and the Lake, the audience’s interaction with the work is fundamental to its occupation, as light and the observer activate the surface. The phenomenological sensations and perceptions are negotiated by the individual and therefore, never stagnant, while the kinetic mutations are infinite in their kaleidoscopic iterations. It is in this reciprocal altruism, where object and audience merge to create an esoteric alchemy of annexing the exterior with the interior worlds of the profane and the sacred - as above, so below. Ultimately, unified as a whole, they - like Narcissus and the Lake, complimentarily realize one another.


Jimi Gleason Prima Materia

Opening reception: Saturday, October 15th, 5-8pm

October 15th-December 3rd, 2022

Curator :


Artist ( Description ): 

Born in Newport Beach, CA, Gleason received his BA from UC Berkeley in 1985. He studied printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute before relocating to New York City, where he worked as a photo assistant and photo technician. Returning to California, Gleason was employed in the studio of Ed Moses for five years. Combining the disparate technical and compositional skills developed during his exposure to printmaking, photography and mixed-media painting, Gleason is now the subject of considerable curatorial and critical applause.

His work has been exhibited in significant public institutions, including: the Hammer Museum, Frederick R. Weisman Foundation, the Long Beach Museum of Art, the Seattle Art Museum, and the Tucson Museum of Art. The artist’s paintings are actively collected by a growing number of major public and private collections around the world.

Venue ( Address ): 

2525 Michigan Ave., E-1, Santa Monica, CA 90404

William Turner Gallery , Santa Monica

Other events from William Turner Gallery

Andy Moses: Recent Paintings
09/09/2023 to 11/11/2023
04/08/2023 to 05/27/2023
Julian Lennon: ATMOSPHERIA
02/18/2023 to 04/01/2023
Alex Couwenberg: SuperGlide
12/10/2022 to 02/11/2023



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