In 'Jasper's gesture', McGillick's entire focus is on colour and colour interaction within the painting. The flat, texture-free surface, synthetic colours and shaped canvas reinforce consideration of the painting as an object of study in its own right, rather than being 'about' something in the world beyond. In contrast, the single white panel in painterly encaustic (pigment and wax) highlights the narrative possibilities that even slight texture can suggest.
This work was produced in Sydney, following the artist's first-hand experience in London and America in the early 1960s of the American giants of post-painterly abstraction (also termed hardedge or colour-field painting). The title is a tribute to McGillick's then mentor, American artist Jasper Johns, whose influence helped formulate his ideas. Widely considered the defining masterpiece of McGillick's oeuvre 'Jasper's gesture' signalled the way forward for the artists associated with Central Street Gallery instigated by McGillick and others in 1966 to introduce the ideas of colour painting to Sydney.