Sunday, September 7, 2008

Artist Statement

Living in New York City, I am constantly exposed to cultural diversity and multicultural communities. My interest consists in establishing an artistic dialogue between distant cultures, through the translation of Catholic experiences of religions contemplation to the spiritual exercise of Zen Buddhism.

My medium is painting. My choice to work with egg tempera paint and oil, both important mediums during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, is a reference to the sacred art created during that period in Europe. By using that technique in a monochromatic matter, I refer to Asian ink plum painting, a genre of Zen Art established in the 12th century. These contrasting forms of utterance are brought together with minimal art and motifs of reductive abstraction. United, a cross-cultural meditative and pictorial language emerges, through which the concept of the sacred is brought forth from both the Western and Eastern traditions.

Cultural Statement

My recent interest in Asian calligraphy, especially in Chinese ink plum painting, has led me to experiment with its pictorial idiom. The plum, one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring, has long been admired in East Asia for its fortitude in the face of harsh conditions. The blossoms are historically considered to be a symbol of renewal, moral purity and the transience of things.

In my work, each image is a geometrically shaped abstract composition, painted in black, which connects to Asian ink calligraphy and its meditative ascetic quality. The European tradition of workshop influenced my method of paint application. Specifically, I use two different techniques of applying black paint to create contrast. Egg tempera, a matte paint that absorbs the light, is used as a background, while glossy oil paint is used to paint on the main structure. The core of the main structure is its shadowy shape, built up with different hues of black oil paints. Connected with a white overtop, it gives the painting a three-dimensionality and the illusion of space, which induces a state of spiritual contemplation. By adopting the format of Asian handscrolls, most of my works take on a horizontally shaped composition.

In this project, I ultimately connect both the spiritual heritage of the West and the East.

Jacek Maczynski