Robert Zakanitch | From a Garden of Ordinary Miracles

Robert Rahway Zakanitch | From a Garden of Ordinary Miracles

May, 2010

When a painter’s work asserts what can best be described as an aggressive argument for beauty, one gets the sense that the deconstruction of the art world has come full circle at last. Robert Rahway Zakanitch’s work – unflinching contrivances of color, form, texture and scale – is iconoclastic for the simplest of reasons: its sheer pursuit of beauty. On May 13, Zakanitch debuts “From a Garden of Ordinary Miracles”, an exhibition of new work at Samuel Freeman.

“These paintings are basically about two things: the re-investigating of the often considered ‘banal’ floral still life, and painting at this huge scale with the mysterious qualities of gouache and the beautiful and vulnerable material of paper.” 

 - Robert Rahway Zakanitch, 2010 

In Zakanitch’s “Garden” there exist two extremes. You first encounter a series of twelve relatively small floral pieces rendered richly in thick layers of acrylic paint and modeling gel.  Each canvas may be only twelve inches to a side, but the oversized “fat blooms” sprawl with such oversized beauty that they are forced to lean out past the frame, extending several inches at a time beyond their constraints.  Second to appear are six large gouache on paper works that enrich the artist’s career-long fascination with scale and surface.  Gouache is traditionally reserved for small-scale works due to its delicacy and difficulty.  Zakanitch’s brush, like his fat blooms, knows no such limits and these paintings extend up to eight feet in height. 

Much of contemporary art has cooled to issues of beauty, as proclaimed in Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe’s “Beauty and the Contemporary Sublime” wherein beauty is opposed with –and conjoined to– all sorts of metaphysical postmodern bullshit.  Robert Zakanitch’s obsession with beauty appeals to a lack of intelligent, full-realized, self-accepted joyous beauty in the world today.  Not the self-conscious musical theater variety nor the theoretically ironic, nor the Disney® Brand© wholesale “organic*” commodity, but the skilled, intentional pursuit of beauty.  The new work from a Garden of Ordinary Miracles  is made to be enjoyed.   


About Robert Rahway Zakanitch 

In the 1970s, Zakanitch gained prominence alongside artists such as Joyce Kozloff, Robert Kushner and Tony Robbin as a Pattern and Decoration painter, a movement of lush, decorative work that rejected the modernist concept of reductive art. In truth, Zakanitch could never quite endorse Minimalism’s cool or Pop art’s irony, while his penchant for figure, pattern and motif was at equal odds with Abstract Expressionism. In the words of Patricia Hamilton, “He is as much in awe of French decorative art and Italian Renaissance painting as he is of linoleum, wallpaper and pottery. It is his wonderful sense of color and decorative borders, combined with his skills as a draftsman, which bring these watercolors to a masterful level.” Over the years, Zakanitch’s work has ranged from the monumental (his “Big Bungalow Suite” series in the 1990s consisted of five canvases 11’ high and 30’ wide) to the mongrel (a 2003 series of smaller dog paintings similarly exhibited Zakanitch’s deft mastery of paint, brush and subject). “From a Garden of Ordinary Miracles” is his first exhibition at Samuel Freeman in four years, the first under the new gallery name.  In 2006 the “Lace” paintings were shown here under the Patricia Faure Gallery name.