Robert Rahway Zakanitch
Robert Rahway Zakanitch
9/11 left many of us wondering what life is all about. It left many feeling irrelevant and very small. And It made all goodness, civility and gentleness seem weak in the face of hate and violence. Does an act of madness eliminate all optimism? Does it make all things caring and good inconsequential? More importantly, what is our response? To answer hatred with hatred? Answer with images of horror to counter their horror? Do we stop creating? Do we stop making beauty?
My answer is: no. First we must mourn. Then we must grieve. But then we must go on to create more beauty and more goodness to counterbalance the baseness and ignorance of our species.
I see these Lace Paintings as an act of defiance. They are, (as all true creative acts are), part of the continuous work of "mending the firmament" that is constantly being shredded by hatred, ignorance, and brutality. I believe that everything put out into the world has an effect. It is therefore essential that we all act to counter the destructive forces put out into the world with creative ones.
Why Lace? I knew I did not want to reflect the unnatural atrocities and horrors done by madmen who are given legitimacy by being called “terrorist” (that's a word that has to be redefined). I did not want their insanity to enter into my studio. I did not want to paint their psychosis nor burnish it into my art or our culture. For me, Lace is a metaphor for the interconnectedness of all things. We are all made of the same fabric. We are all apart of each other-- woven by a single string or force of energy that creates the ebb and flow of this ALL, in which we live. Lace is a collective system of unity that is delicate, beautiful and powerful. And it evokes an enormous feeling of gentleness and caring and an affirmation of life.
Curiously, I did not think of any of this when making these paintings. I felt instead a great imbalance-- that the firmament was badly torn -- and had to be mended. Subconsciously it took the form of lace. These paintings also came out of an enormous drive of energy caused by the notion that one cannot be stilled by violence and from an even larger pressing need to respond with the need to heal. Art has the power to plant seeds of optimism deeply into the human psyche. For me there is no higher calling for art. It is essential that we always be reminded of our aptitude for compassion, civility and most of all, beauty.
R R Zakanitch, 5 Sept 05
On view March 4 - April 15, 2006