Jas Knight: Euhemerized

Sept. 22, 2015 – Feb. 28, 2016
Downtown Gallery, 416 Market St., Lewisburg

Jas Knight, Beatific, 2014. Oil with gold leaf on panel. Image courtesy of Bill Hodges Gallery.

Jas Knight, Beatific, 2014. Oil with gold leaf on panel. Image courtesy of Bill Hodges Gallery.

In this exhibition of ten oil paintings, Knight combines traditional 16th and 17th century realist painting styles with references to contemporary African life and conflict. The term euhemerized refers to mythology that, through the process of interpretation over time, is considered to have originated from real historical occurrence. As this title suggests, Knight is interested in the flux between reality and fiction.

Woman with Blue and Black is an oil painting on linen of an African woman sitting in a chair as she stares with an enigmatic smile. Her figure is shown mostly in silhouette against a dark blue background with a minimal architectural arc framing her head. She sits, relaxed but still guarded, posed with one arm resting over back of the chair. At first glance, she dawns a dark medieval cloak or Renaissance riding hood, but upon closer examination, she appears to wear a hooded sweatshirt with a zipper barely visible behind her posed arm. In addition, she sits in a wooden café chair, a contemporary development. In theme with the exhibition, Knight amalgamates past and present, disrupting a linear sense of time within the work.

Painted in oil with gold leaf on panel, Beatific is a detailed portrait of a young African-American woman with her head surrounded by a bright cream-colored halo which breaks through a dark cloudy background. Rays of gold leaf radiate from her coiled hair in allusion to religious portraiture of the Renaissance. However, Knight engages with contemporary themes; his sitter holds an iPhone, perhaps taking a photo of herself in a mirror. Knight often paints his figures surrounded by vices of contemporary culture. While the inclusion of Apple products in his work may seem a passive detail, it is meant to be a subtle reference to present-day use of African conflict minerals in many electronic devices all over the world. Substances such as tin, tungsten, and gold ore are being sold to American technology companies by various armies and rebel groups in Northern Africa to fund war and violence. Knight’s models engage in a passive type of violence, indirectly contributing to the problem.

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Anthony “Jas” Knight was born in 1977 in Bloomfield, Connecticut. He received a BFA from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and he has been awarded the Greater Hartford Arts Council Innovation Grant and the Leonard Andrews Foundation. Knight’s paintings have been shown in several group exhibitions and his work is included in multiple private collections. Knight currently works and resides in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Artworks and texts courtesy of Bill Hodges Gallery.

Jas Knight: Opening + Artist Tour
September 24, 6:00pm Tour; 6:30-8:00pm reception
Downtown Gallery, 416. Market St.

Join artist Jas Knight for a walkthrough of his new exhibition. A reception catered by That Kitchen Witch follows the tour.

Jas Knight: Frame Making Workshop
Saturday, February 6, 1-4pm
Downtown Gallery, 416 Market St., Lewisburg

As part of the Heart of Lewisburg Ice Festival, we’re designing and making “frame art” inspired by the historic frames used in Jas Knight’s paintings at the Downtown Gallery. Take them home to frame your own art, or pose for a photo with your frame. This event is geared towards families, though all ages are welcome.

Exhibition photos:

Exhibition Guide and Checklist

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Gallery Locations

The Samek Gallery
3rd Floor, Elaine Langone Center
Bucknell University

The Downtown Gallery
416 Market Street
Lewisburg, PA 17837