Jonathan Adolphe (1952 – 2022) was a contemporary American painter whose translucent works evoke the sacred, the fragility of emotions, and human ephemerality. His materials consisted of urethane, fiberglass, smoke, powdered pigment, and spray paint. Adolphe’s early works were a hybrid of painting and sculpture, employing materials such as wax, chalkboards, sand, and navy signal flags.

From Jonathan Adolphe:

“My paintings have an interior and an exterior. The image is preserved beneath the surface. A thin, translucent membrane separates the fragile interior from the coarse skin shielding it. The scarred, pockmarked urethane skin acts as a protective barrier from the outside world. The works are a casting of the fragility of life, the fragility of feelings.

I wish the paintings to be an evocation of the sacred. Light and transparency are my tools. I draw with smoke and the pouring of urethane. A kind of abstract writing appears. The necessity of expressing these inchoate feelings leads me to invoking natural phenomena with translucent qualities: light, fog, steam, mist, clouds, water, sweat and ice. Like an undiscovered creature embedded in ice, the paintings offer a reveal. The practice is a form of writing without writing and painting without painting.”