In Jeff Way’s current series of paintings, Eccentric Squares, he has returned to a more purely abstract approach, which is elemental yet achieves a high level of visual complexity. This series presents an instant duality between the flatness and depth of a grid. In each of the paintings, although the squares are flat, they create a sense of depth. While the grids gravitate towards the centripetal direction, they are not centered but always eccentric.
For Way, the color functions much like musical notes establishing harmony, dissonance, and rhythm. Variations in transparency and opacity contribute to the richness of the surface. The sequential layering process continues until Way feels a sense of resolution in the quality of the paint application and resonance in the layered sequencing of the color. The grid is present as an organizing principle, but the eccentric placement and layering establish an ambiguous sense of space. Color is a fundamental element in these paintings and establishes the singular character of each unique artwork.
Adhering to a palette of six or nine colors, Way layers configurations of two horizontal and two vertical precise lines at regular measured intervals. Along each of the horizontal and vertical lines, which intersect to form a square, color is applied in one layer with a distinct style of mark making that extends in a band from edge to edge. This establishes a tension of opposition in the fundamental construction of the paintings. These paintings relate back to an earlier series, that the artist began in the late 1960s. The Chalk Line Paintings, which also explored the grid, and were followed by image-based work, including masks and performances. Ultimately, whether it is image-based or abstract, Way’s work brings up questions of duality.
About the Artist
With a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, Jeff Way moved to NYC after completing his BA in History at Kenyon College, to pursue graduate study in Art History at NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts. After 3 semesters Way found that he was no longer satisfied with art historical scholarship and writing; instead, he wanted to paint. So, he transferred his studies to the Graduate Studio Art Program at NYU, completing his MA there. While at NYU, Way worked as a preparator at the Guggenheim Museum. This work and his Fine Arts studies combined to offer him daily exposure to great works of art, which was deeply inspiring.
The artist has shown multiple times at the Whitney Museum. Curator, Marcia Tucker, selected him for the 1973 Whitney Annual. His works have been reviewed in the New York Times and Artforum, among other publications. Way has worked as a professor since 1968 and considers teaching to be an extension of his artistic practice. Since 1985 he has served on the Fine Art faculty at the Fashion Institute of Technology, NYC.
Jeff Way has exhibited in numerous one-person and group shows in the US since 1969. He’s had solo shows at the Whitney Museum, Franklin Furnace, Pam Adler Gallery, Fischbach Gallery, Mitchell Algus Gallery, and Lesley Heller Gallery, along with inclusion in significant group shows at MOMA PS1 and Artists Space among many others. He has shown abroad in Italy, Portugal, and South Korea. His work has been featured in Art in America, the New Yorker, Village Voice, and more. His work is held in various collections including the Whitney Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Chase Manhattan Bank. Way has received funding from both the NY State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.