David Richard Contemporary is pleased to present, Works of the Early 1960s, the gallery’s first solo exhibition for sculptor and painter Jack Zajac.
Works of the Early 1960s consists of a selection of gestural abstract oil paintings from Zajac’s moving series depicting the deposition of Christ and two bronze sculptures from his equally touching and well known series of sacrificial goats. Sacrifice, death and redemption are well known themes in art. However, Zajac’s interest in exploring such imagery in the 1950s and1960s was not for religious reasons, but more as a metaphor for the turbulent post-war world that feared nuclear escalation and the possibility of an apocalyptic ending. Beyond fear, Zajac’s artwork examined both man’s inhumanity and the salvation of mankind through one man.
The artist’s work of this era, as noted by Henry J. Seldis in 1960, was exceptional. At the peak of Abstract Expressionism, Zajac went beyond the purely non-referential outpouring of artist to viewer. Instead, he used the raw gesture and combined it with just the essence of figuration to create not only an elegant image on canvas, but pure emotion felt by both artist and viewer. Just as he used the raw strokes and contorted figures in his bronze sculptures to exquisitely capture the exhausted, sorrowful goats propped-up with stakes, revealing their tender underbellies ripe for piercing as a metaphor for that rare and precious moment of one teetering on the brink of death. For Zajac, the image of death was not as compelling or important as capturing the moment before death, that instant when each of us finally realizes life. Zajac was ahead of his time, combining formal approaches of contemporary art-making with challenging and conceptual abstract concepts of global proportion. Like his friend and colleague Cy Twombly, the two mastered the essence of the gesture to catapult beyond the gravitational pull of Abstract Expressionism and into the far out, unknown galaxy beyond them, to create their art in a rapidly changing high tech world. Zajac’s subject matter and deconstructive approach is as fresh and relevant today, as young artists and society continue to be plagued by escalating international tensions and global politics.
Jack Zajac has had a long and impressive career, with his work is in more than 45 major public and private collections and numerous US and international exhibitions. Zajac's artwork can be found in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art (New York), Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (Washington, D.C.), Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Seattle Museum of Art, Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), Butler Museum of American Art and Columbus Museum of Art, among others. He has had more than 70 solo exhibitions and his work has been included in exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago, Whitney Museum (New York), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York), Museum of Modern Art (New York), Smithsonian Institution (Washington, D.C.), Hirshhorn Collection (Washington, D.C.), Los Angeles County Museum and many other notable institutions and galleries.
Zajac's artwork has been critically reviewed in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, ARTFORUM, Art In America and ARTNews, among other notable publications. His work has been placed in the company of Henry Moore, Alberto Giacometti, Pablo Picasso and other exceptional sculptors who have also made art history.