Color, composition, texture, pattern, symbolism, and phenomenology: these are the basic elements of painting. In an artistic career spanning nearly 70 years, Paul Sarkisian has deeply investigated the complex alchemy of these elements. His work is invariably enlivened by fundamental creative tensions, elegantly if imperfectly resolved. More recent works like the meticulously crafted wooden “puzzle” paintings on view in the lobby embody these kinds of dialectics. They are simple and complex, direct yet coy, intimate but monumental, childish and sophisticated. In other words, they remind us that art’s tendency, even its purpose, is to generate more questions than answers, more not-knowing than knowing. These more recent works provide a wonderful contrast to the artist’s paintings that seem all about answers and providing information through their meticulous, almost photographically “real” paintings from the 1970s and 1980s. From his monumental, life-sized, black and white paintings of buildings to his completely deceptive paintings of mundane scraps of paper, Sarkisian proves the power of continuous innovation, and the importance of mastery of technique before an artist can create masterpieces reflecting his vision.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.