Stanczak Op Art Exhibit a Rare Treat for Cleveland

Submitted by Evelyn Kiefer on Mon, 04/25/2005 - 17:22.

 

"Chroma" an exhibit of paintings and prints by Julian Stanczak is arguably the most important show currently on view in Cleveland. Stanczak is an internationally known artist and important figure of the Op Art movement of the 1960s. He also is a longtime Cleveland-area resident and emeritus professor of the Cleveland Institute of Art - he was awarded the Cleveland Arts Prize in 1969. Works from three decades of Stanczak's career can be seen by appointment at Elevation Art, 1240 Huron Road in the Playhouse Square District now through May 20th. The opening reception on Friday evening April 22nd drew a large crowd representing the "who's who" of the Northeast Ohio art scene, including many artists and art dealers.

The show is small (approximately 15 works) for Stanczak, a prolific artist still producing works that radiate with energy. Stanczak is a master of design. He seems to have a limitless ability to arrange and rearrange lines and color - each time creating new and interesting optical effects. A video of Stanczak at work, masking a canvas meticulously revealed his nearly obsessive commitment to technique.

 

Many works were from 1973, what must had been a particularly productive year for him. There were several impressive black and metallic ink prints in the show such as Super Imposed in Light and Super Imposed in Dark. Both were 32" x 32" prints from 1973, each from an edition of 20. Super Imposed in Light was printed in black and silver and Super Imposed in Dark was printed in black and gold. The lines and boxes in metallic ink created an illusive surface that changed with the viewer's position and as the crowd moved through the gallery.

 

Three prints from 1981 titled Sequential System - Red, Blue, Gray had unusually intense illusionistic depth. The patterns created by the colors and precise, fine lines also appeared more woven than in his other works. Each 32" x 32" impression was part of an edition of 35. Stanczak explained that they were created through an incredibly labor intensive process that involved 17 individual printings.

The standout masterpiece of the show was a work from 2005, Twenty Reds, an acrylic on board, 67" x 84", made of 20 16" x 16" panels. Each panel was hung with wall space between it and the next panel, making no effort to hide each panel's ability to stand on its own visually - if necessary. The work was perhaps painted in 20 panels for practical reasons -- to create a technically more manageable project; however, the method contributed to the work's powerful visual effect. The effect of similar individuals functioning together, "networked" by lines conveyed a sense of harmony intensified by the warm palette. Priced at $100,000, Twenty Reds asserted Stanczak's enduring importance in the art world and his high level of achievement among Cleveland artists.

Despite Stanczak's importance, there are few opportunities to see his work in Cleveland outside of private collections. Stanczak shows and sells more work in New York than Cleveland. His works are sometimes found in local galleries that specialize in the secondary market. The opening night reception was a rare opportunity to meet the artist and his wife among a mini retrospective of his work. His wife, Barbara Stanczak is a sculptor of critical acclaim and a professor of foundation design at CIA.

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