I don’t think I could count the number of times I overheard someone mention how much the paintings of Julian Stanczak reminded them of Op Art pioneer Bridget Riley while we cruised around the opening reception for From Life, Stanczak’s new exhibit over at Mitchell-Innes & Nash. Trust me: it was a lot – and I was thinking the same thing.
But a little research on my part revealed that the term Op Art actually first appeared in print in Time Magazine in October 1964 in response to Stanczak’s Optical Paintings exhibit at the Martha Jackson gallery. Crazy!
Now at age 86, Julian Stanczak – a former student of Joseph Albers, whose early life was marked by enormous personal struggle – serves as a true artistic and personal inspiration with his first solo exhibition at M-I & N, which includes a dozen large-scale paintings spanning the artist’s career from the 1960s to the present and includes works not seen publically in decades.
Stanczak’s canvases are created through a complex process of tape masks in which colors are systematically added and unveiled in layers. While incredibly methodical, Stanczak works alone on his canvases without the aid of preliminary sketches, relying solely on his own vision of a finished work.
A Detail from the Above Painting is Below.
This is even more impressive when you know that Stanczak lost the complete use his of right arm after confinement in a Siberian hard labor camp during World War II.
The artist makes the surface plane of the painting vibrate through his use of lines and contrasting colors, but what I want to really emphasize is how these paintings look completely different to the naked eye than they do when seen through the lens of a camera. The observable transformation is really quite remarkable.
In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to say that these paintings are mind-blowing.
Very highly recommended!
Julian Stanczak’s From Life will be on Exhibit Through December 6th, 2014 at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, Located at 534 West 26th Street, in the Chelsea Gallery District.