Sunday, May 01, 2005

Etienne Zack

Looking at the paintings of Etienne Zack makes me think of the thing which I love, which is art. They don't make me think about thinking about art, they elicit the joy of looking at art together with the remembrance of similar occasions past. The reminder isn't of other artists, but about them, and about the experience of having looked at them.  

Spending Time shows an interior.  Alternating bands of pink and yellow insulation sit between the studs of a framed wall with red and blue wiring running through.  A tile floor runs in diagonals towards it.  I recognize the scene as a construction site, but it has the orange flush of a Bonnard.  In front of the wall sits a grayish boxy object with drawing on it which doesn't seem to belong.  Many of the pictures have an object that seems plunked in.  Most have been made by Zack and then painted into remembered sites.  They hover like something coming into or maybe fading from memory and being captured as it does - like coalesced ideas.  To the right is a wooden block with nails partially set in.  Nails appear in four other of Zack's pictures.  Through them the memory of the nails of 17th and 18th century trompe l'oeil still life painters like William Harnett, those of the cubist canvasses of Picasso and Braque, and the nails of Guston all come into consciousness.  

This isn't to say that Zack isn't making pictures which are distinctly his own because he is.  It's that while looking at them one feels the warm glow of history.  What Zack does isn't new.  It isn't shocking or spectacular.  Yet what he does is so little seen and felt as to make it remarkable. 

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