Samuel Jablon by James Hyde

BOMB 127 Spring 2014
Cover 127 Nobarcode

Home of the Bill T. Jones / Arnie Zane Company


Jablon 2

Get Dirty, 2014, fused glass, glass tile/mirror and acrylic on wood, 30 × 40 inches.

Glittery, reflective, and colored tiles, broken and whole, are stuck to large, bright, and thoroughly paint-slathered canvases. Letters or shapes are formed from tiles. Paint covers older paint; tiles cover paint; paint covers tiles. Facture and process meet with enthusiasm, and the physicality of painterly construction is left raw and open—so to be entirely legible.

With exuberance, Jablon’s paintings tell the story of their own making. They are what they are by showing how they got there and how they take up their subject—and that subject is text. In fact, when Jablon burst into making these works some two years ago, it was through making paintings of his poetry. The authority of even these earliest canvasses was due to an excitable tension between text and pretext—Jablon’s poetry becoming both the content and excuse for the paintings.

In many of Jablon’s paintings the writing itself is less legible than the painterly procedures. Usually one can discern letters, but putting them together into words becomes an effort. Assembling and reading Jablon’s poetical phrases causes the physicality of the painting to disappear, thus forcing you to chose between seeing and reading. The conjunction of mirrored tiles with matter-of-fact paint fields results in a similar bind—you can see yourself and your surroundings reflected in the tiles or look at the paint on the painting’s surface, but you cannot see both at the same time.

In a manner related to Chris Martin’s canvasses, the mode of address in Jablon’s paintings is a cheerful greeting. It’s enjoyable negotiating the obstacles of brightly-hued paint and shimmering tiles to puzzle out the text. But Jablon’s message has an often dark and ironic sensibility:

AMERICA DREAMS
GIVE ME THE LOOT
PASS IT FLEX IT
FORM IT SWIPE IT
ITS DELICIOUS
I’M LOVING IT

The effect is not unlike a Smiths song where a merry pop melody is contradicted by melancholic lyrics. For Jablon, like for The Smiths’s singer/songwriter Morrissey, it is neither the content of the words nor the pleasure of making beautiful things that is by itself the point, but it is the wild fun of forging sensibility to fact in the midst of complexity and contradiction.

Jablon 3

Simple Country Girl, 2013, acrylic and 14K gold tile/mirror on wood, 46 × 76 inches. Images courtesy of Freight and Volume.

Jablon 1

I Can’t Go On I Must Go On, 2013, acrylic and glass tile/mirror, precious stone, and opal on canvas over wood, 52 × 62 inches.

Jablon 4

Cover Me Glitteringly, 2013, mother of pearl, dichroic glass, glass tile, 14k gold tile, acrylic, and enamel on wood, 36 × 48 inches

James Hyde is a painter living and working in Brooklyn. Upcoming exhibitions include Galerie Filles du Calvaire in Paris, and SiteLines, Unsettled Landscapes, at Site Santa Fe.

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Originally published in

BOMB 127, Spring 2014

Featuring interviews with Jay Scheib, Matthew Barney and Gaspar Noé, chameckilerner, Zoe Leonard and Shannon Ebnerm, Teju Cole, Etel Adnan, Natalie Frank, and Valerie Snobeck.

Read the issue
Cover 127 Nobarcode