Signature: Lower right
Image rights: Artist
Robert Zakanitch’s thoughts on his 2011 painting “Pittsburgh Four”
“Formalism, as you know, is the core theory of all of 20th Century American mainstream Modern Abstract painting. And one that I was so immersed in and loved, and then ultimately fought against and successfully rejected - specifically its insistence on subject matter of ‘Abstraction, Minimalism and ultimately Conceptualism’ - however it seems I have not rejected it totally. Somehow and surprisingly, I still retained the essential aspect of this theory - which I feel is the best and most profound part - and that is, ‘the purity of materials concept,’ i.e., the emphasis on the purity and beauty of the raw materials. In comparison to the beautiful genre of English animal painters, my works are more about the physicality of materials: paint, flatness (a key word) juxtaposed against volume, raw washes against refined representation, and the basic use of basic artist tools: line, pencil, and design - all of which I want the viewer to be visually aware of in the work, because it is inclusive and lets the viewer in to see the process, which brings them further into the making of the painting. It also frees the painting to become so much more open and airy and energized. I can show all erasures and smears and smudges and drips (so-called ‘mistakes’) because they are all the innate qualities of each material and medium. There are no mistakes; everything is what and where it should be. It’s like being served a banquet of delicious art supplies.
Who would have thought ... by breaking down the rigid rules of Formalism (co-founding a Movement completely opposed to it - “Pattern & Decoration”) and extending the parameters of Art by bringing into my work the inclusion of Art from all other cultures and nationalities and histories, past and present, along with the disbelief in divisions of any kind, would ultimately reveal it as Americanized as Formalism. The colossal irony of it all! I’ve made a real American painting.”
Dog & Horse Fine Art
About Robert Zakanitch
American, b. 1935, Elizabeth, New Jersey, based in New York, New York