Roman Numerals V

Jay McCafferty
Roman Numerals V
Gesso and paint on canvas mounted on wood, 1979
58 x 58 inches
Gift of Jay and Ellen McCafferty
1991.035

Since the late 1970s, Jay McCafferty has focused on solar-burn “paintings.” Working outdoors, using a magnifying glass and the sun’s heat and light, he burns holes of various sizes. He uses stacked or single sheets of gridded vellum paper. Depending on the intensity of the sun and other atmospheric coniditions, He is able to create a variety of effects—sometimes more minimal as in Roman Numerals V, sometimes with greater burns and a more gestural appearance. The process is repetitious and methodical, but the burns are unpredictable. McCafferty says that “the grid is the ‘known’ thing and the ‘burn’ is the unknown…. So there’s a chaos in it and a rigidity that bounce back and forth.”