• Bio

    Richard Jacobs received a BA from Cooper Union, a MFA from Yale, and was a Henry Luce Scholar in Bali, Indonesia. He lives and paints in Putney Vermont, and maintains a studio in Bali. Works are included in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the Rose Art Museum, the DeCordova Museum, Fidelity Investments, Bank of America and the Hall Art Foundation.

  • Richard Jacobs (b.1961)

    1987 MFA Yale University
    1984 BA The Cooper Union

    1987-88 Henry Luce Scholarship; Bali, Indonesia

    One Person Painting Exhibitions:
    2019 Richard Jacobs “Bali Moon, Richard Jacobs Paintings and Monotypes “, Hammond Museum, North Salem NY.
    2018 Richard Jacobs “Portraits”, Ober Gallery, Kent CT
    2017 (May) "Slowly Turning Into You", Richard Jacobs, Jack Geary Contemporary, NY,NY
    2015 Richard Jacobs, Sika Contemporary, Ubud Bali
    2014 "Soul Delay", Richard Jacobs, Jack Geary Contemporary, NY,NY
    2012 Paintings and Monotypes, Currier Gallery, Putney Vermont
    1997 Richard Jacobs; A Decade of Balinese Influence, Curated by Dore Ashton The Cooper Union, NY
    1995 Richard Jacobs, Recent Work, Howard Yezerski Gallery, Boston MA
    1992 Richard Jacobs, New Monotypes, Rugg Road Gallery, Boston MA
    1991 Richard Jacobs, Recent Work, Howard Yezerski Gallery, Boston MA
    1991 Richard Jacobs, Paintings, Harrison Gallery, Boca Raton, FL,
    1991 Richard Jacobs, Paintings, Dash Gallery, Cincinnati, OH
    1990 Richard Jacobs, Paintings, Howard Yezerski Gallery, Boston MA

    Selected Group Exhibitions:
    2022 “Crossing Over” Seattle NFT Museum, Seattle Washington
    2021 “Deep Blue” Hall Art Foundation, Reading VT.
    2021 “Expedition” Brattleboro Museum
    2021 “10 Years”, Launch F18, NY,NY
    2020 “Triad, Pam Glick, Patrick Dunfey, Richard Jacobs, Bundy Modern, Waitsfield, Vermont.
    2019 “Comrades of Time”, Whatspace, Hardspace, Basel Switzerland
    2018 “Heads Roll”, Graves Gallery, Sheffield, UK
    2018 “Made in Vermont” The Hall Art Foundation, Reading , Vermont.
    2018 “MTV RE:DEFINE” , The Goss-Michael Foundation, Dallas Texas.
    2018 “Malevolent Eldritch Shrieking”, Attercliffe TM, Sheffield, England
    2017 “Pairings”, Kelly Stelling Contemporary, Manchester NH
    2016 Contemporary Artists Versus the Masters, Brattleboro Museum, Brattleboro VT
    2016 Blow, Curated by Lisa Banner, Brooklyn, NY
    2016 One Big Holiday, Sharon Arts Center, Peterborough, NH
    2016 Bali High, Curated by Lisa Banner, Brooklyn NY
    2014 Flora, Brattleboro Museum, Brattleboro VT
    2013 Grade (Climbing) Makebish, NY,NY
    2009 Drawing Itself, Brattleboro Museum, Brattleboro VT
    1998-2000Abstract and Figurative Expressionism: Common Ground; DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, MA,
    1993 Crosscurrents of Influence, Brattleboro Museum of Art: Brattleboro, VT
    1993 Regarding Abstraction, Howard Yezerski Gallery, Boston, MA
    1993 Yale Collects Yale, Yale Art Gallery, New Haven, CT
    1992 Selections from the Collection; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA Selections from the Collection; Rose Art Museum, Waltham, MA Travelers, Rugg Road Gallery, Boston, MA
    1992 Travelers, Richard Jacobs, Marsha Goldberg, Rugg Road, Somerville, MA
    1992 Implications, Hal Katzen Gallery, New York, NY
    1992 Coming and Going, Multicultural Arts Center, Cambridge, MA
    1991 New Editions, Rugg Road Gallery, Boston, MA
    1990 Bank of Boston Gallery, Boston, MA
    Works on Paper, Frick Gallery, Belfast, ME
    Works from Rugg Road, Sharon Arts Center, Sharon, NH
    1989 Explorations in Handmade Paper, DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, MA Restive Visions, Rose Art Museum, Waltham, MA
    Nature Reassembled, Newton Arts Center, Newton, MA
    1987 New Talent, New Work, Harcus Gallery, Boston, MA
    Thesis Show, Yale University, New Haven, CT
    1986 Young Artist Exhibition, Provincetown Art Assoc, Provincetown, MA Recent Images, Three Painters, Newton Arts Center, Newton, MA1985 Figuration Today, Major Paintings, Harcus Gallery, Boston, MA

    Selected Collections:
    Boston Museum of Fine Arts, DeCordova Museum, Rose Art Museum, Fidelity Investments, Hall Art Foundation, Bank of America.

  • By Dore Ashton
    In 1987 Richard Jacobs a graduate of Cooper Union and Yale, set off for Asia as a Henry Luce Scholar. What he found in Bali, where he studied indigenous arts, including the creation of batik at woodcarvings used for ritual functions, was a liberation from the conventions of his own culture where, as he says, Art is merely a precious commodity. His experience in his studio, where he felt in harmony with the rice workers, whose lives were governed by three-month cycles of planting and harvesting, radically altered his vision as a painter. He explored techniques rarely exploited by western artists in order to reflect his experiences as a sentient being, subsisting in a landscape of rare light and color, that would be inscribed in his every gesture. These paintings, in which the saturated often high-keyed colors speak in a complex, many layered idiom, conjure not only a place of luminous splendor, but the living experience of their author who, as he says, had himself become, in his studio in Bali, a medium.

    The Brooklyn Rail
    By Sarah Goffstein

    The work of Richard Jacobs reaches us slowly. For many years, this Yale MFA graduate has painted in the seclusion of his Vermont studio. Although Jacobs’s paintings immediately reference the urgency of AbEx gestures and even Arp’s early chance collages, there is an indirectness in his process that literally requires the paintings to take time to develop, not so unlike an analog photograph. In fact, the depth of detail within his chromatic spills give parts of the paintings a quality usually associated with the grain of film or pixels, because the loose pigment combined with acrylic medium is oddly precise and atmospheric. Here, the nonchalance of planned accidents meet calculated, masked geometries of carefully deliberated compositions. These layered paintings combine a provisional approach with the attention of someone who is deeply conversant with painting’s history.

    The foundation of Jacobs’s practice was built while studying batik in Bali as a Luce Scholar in 1987. Masking and the unpredictable results of liquid dyes have been carried forward into Jacobs’s abstractions. Because the layers are separated into a relief of puddles and masked areas that bear a relative time stamp, works such as “Frenhofer”(2014) are almost diagrammatic of AbEx painting practices. Created on a translucent ground, bluish grey, sepia, and black chaotic squiggles congeal in washes of semi-transparent ooze. The final strata are clearly delineated in thick opaque interlocking forms that bring to mind de Kooning’s “Pink Angels,” circa 1945.
    This planned displacement in which one area is partially obscured by the next is an excellent metaphor for the type of “soul delay” that Jacobs mentioned he had experienced many times while traveling internationally during his other life as a jewelry designer. It is a term derived from William Gibson’s novel, Pattern Recognition, and describes how the soul cannot travel as quickly as the body. While Jacobs is not overly concerned with New Age or religious ideas, he is deeply committed to creating abstractions that come to life through an alchemy of invention and the intuitive “listening” process that is part of the generative DNA of most good paintings. This aligns him with Modernists, such as Matisse. However, the ripping away and interruption of otherwise grand painterly gestures clearly belong to the precarity of this moment. For instance, In “Rain” (2003 - 13), big sweeping violet brushstrokes extend a large calligraphic shape that is prematurely ended in multiple places—most noticeably in a sweeping downward gesture that was abruptly sliced away.

    In “Behind the Waterfall” (2014), what at first appears to be a luminous collage of printed and painted cut-outs in ultramarine, cerulean, and phthalo hues then starts to look like a “Blue Nude” processed through a blender. Also, the ground is a silkscreen scrim stretched over a bright aluminum frame, making the painting appear to float. As a nod to Sigmar Polke and Carla Accardi, the translucency offers a fleeting quality while also preventing the paintings from fully congealing as objects. On some level they are like projections which have an uncertain relationship with the wall despite their resolutely rectangular format.
    Among Jacobs’s strongest work are “Lantern I” and “Lantern II” (both 2014), which feature suspended cubes that offer surfaces for lapidary paintings illuminated subtly from within. Their placement in space asks the viewer to slowly circle the works and observe how the embryo-like abstractions evolve morphologically from one panel to the next. The reduced palette and effortless process-oriented surfaces allow a direct clash between chance and precise underlying geometries, resulting in objects that are kooky, alive, and playful. They are also visually permeable, allowing traces of the paintings on the other side of the lantern to be glimpsed through the silkscreen. This adds a type of physical depth that most paintings otherwise do not possess.

    A willingness to embrace chance and the way that some of the paintings hover on a translucent support suggests a provisionality that situates the pieces squarely in the present. However there is a middle ground negotiated in Jacobs's work that is usually not seen in most casual abstraction. As Sharon Butler described in “The Casualist Tendency,” “What distinguishes a casualist approach is the premium on unexpected outcomes rather than handsome results.” Richard Jacobs is an artist who actively collaborates with chance, but he does so with a joyous sense of workmanship that takes root in painting’s past. It may have taken him almost two decades to return to showing in New York, but the wait was worthwhile.

    By Carl Belz
    The high ambition that Richard Jacobs brings his art has become increasingly focused in the several series of paintings he has produced since returning from Bali, Indonesia in 1988. The influences he accepted there- a technique partly derived from batik, a certain exoticness of imagery, were evident in the first pictures he completed his Waltham studio, but they became quickly absorbed as he determined to clarify his concerns and established a personal voice in relationship to them... I saw the work about once a year and each studio visit left me convinced that Jacobs had pushed into new pictorial territory. This experience suggests to me not that each successive body of work has been better than the last, as though an improvement on it, for each has in its turn felt accomplished and fully satisfying; it suggests, rather, that the maker of the paintings has resisted contentment in those accomplishments and satisfactions, as though the issues hypostatized in them, however persuasive or inventive their articulation in any one instance may be, nonetheless remain challenging and elusive. Such are the terms of high ambition.

    The issues I have in mind are old ones having to do with the art of painting, specifically with the urge to make paintings that generate light through color- not to depict light as we experience it in the world, though it's life giving presence there is surely an inspiration, but to create light through the materials of the medium itself, painting's light embodied in paintings color... The affect of the new pictures is compelling, even magical. As such, it reminds us of painting's extraordinary resources and why we were so attracted to it in the first place.