January 29th – March 12th, 2016
“The desert is vast, but fragile and vulnerable; beautiful, rapidly and constantly changing; neat, clean, open, ordered, disciplined and precise. And it’s honest, revealing everything, clarifying every relationship. I try to bring this back, not as a souvenir, but as icon and metaphor. I’m interested in the tension between abstraction and representation, in the mark and in what it represents; in surface as fragile membrane; in the precision of chance and the controlled chaos of gesture, and, underneath the work, in earth as anxious object because of us.”
Desert brings together a curated selection of watercolor and ink works by artist Mel Pekarsky from the 1980s. In the merging of the traditional landscape and abstraction, Pekarsky creates a contemporary language that reveals the emotive aspects of his favorite subject matter, the desert. He achieves this with simple, articulate brushstrokes and an attention to detail that focuses as much on what is in the landscape than what is not. In this tension between ‘abstraction and representation’, Pekarsky provides the viewer with an experience, both visual and emotional.
Mel (Melvin H.) Pekarsky (born Chicago, IL, September 18, 1934) is an American artist and art educator. He is best known for his paintings and drawings of the desert, and is recognized by art critic Donald Kuspit as “one of the most significant contemporary landscape artists.” A professor of art at the State University of New York at Stony Brook for forty years, Pekarsky’s work has been shown by the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Fogg Museum of Art at Harvard University, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Butler Institute of American Art, among many other venues. View Condensed Curriculum Vitae.
Mel Pekarsky, Soft and Bright in Texas, c. 1988, ink and wash on paper, 14 x 20 inches
Mel Pekarsky, Plateau, 1989, ink, wash and watercolor on paper, 14 x 20 inches
Mel Pekarsky, Hot Spot II, 1988, ink, colored inks, colored pencil and chalk on paper, 14 x 20 inches
Mel Pekarsky, Morning, 1989, pencil and watercolor on paper, 14 x 20 inches
Mel Pekarsky, Desert Light, c. 1988, pen, ink and wash on paper, 14 x 20 inches
Mel Pekarsky, Early Light, 1989, mixed media on paper, 14 x 20 inches
Mel Pekarsky, Waiting II, 1989, mixed media on paper, 14 x 20 inches
Mel Pekarsky, Waiting III, 1989, mixed media on paper, 14 x 20 inches