Above and Below

2018

PENNY CONTEMPORARY
187 Liverpool St, Hobart TAS 7000

19 January - 13 February 2018

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Above and Below - Paul Zika.jpg

These paintings continue the pursuit of a pictorial space that remains both volatile and seductive; one that entices and overwhelms; one that we become totally immersed in, and we surrender to that capture! The Terme series draws upon the open linear border designs found in Roman bath mosaics, and the Stellar series has seen the introduction of more complex multidirectional compositions within the single panel. The later series is a response to the architecture of Frank Gehry and the paintings of Ellsworth Kelly and Frank Stella, reappraised in two tours of the USA in 2016-7.

Paul Zika 2018


LIST OF WORKS

Paul Zika

1. Terme 15 2015
79 x 80 x 5.5

2. Terme 16 2015
80 x 78 x 5.5

3. Terme 17 2015-6
84 x 80 x 5

4. Terme 18 2016
77 x 81 x5

5. Terme 19 2016
81x 77 x 5

6. Stellar 1 2016
81 x 82x 5

7. Stellar 2 2017
82x 81 x5

8. Stellar 3 2017
82 x 81 x5.5

Jacob Leary/Paul Zika

9. 2.0 ∞ 2016
194 x 221 x 3

All works acrylic on wood, height then width and depth in centimetres.

This project has been assisted by the University of Tasmania


Opening Speech by Wayne Brooks



Paul Zika - Above and Below

I believe in invention, particularly within the English language. Please do not feel as if your vocabulary is wanting. I’ve simple made stuff up. At a previous opening, I was heckled by a senior, waving her finger vigorously she shouted,’That’s not a word!’ I simply replied, ‘Of course it isn’t!’.

Welcome to Paul’s second commercial show in Hobart. Paul and I have an interlaced history, which reaches its 40th anniversary next year. For those of you in attendance, for his first show, in 2015 you may recall that during my opening comments I acknowledged him to be something akin to a ceiling celebrant, an articulator of artifice, omnipresent of ocular collusion and it’s fusion of stone, stucco and anamorphic device. A disciple of Theatrum Sacrum, he knew the bad boys of anti-gravitational ruse, stupefaction and illusionism which soared above the voice of scripture. That’s how we connected, in the menagerie of the pittori-figuristi and the quadraturisti.

But let’s be rational, while all this adjectival bluster may well be my unhinged exuberance for a fellow Baroque Tardis traveller, Paul’s work does not waft or surge with pantomimes of salvation, ( okay I’ve used that before, but it’s still gold) rather it is of the manner in which the slippage of interior/ exterior, the above and below ultimately fuse in a lenticular tango. Collisions are epiphanous and during a conversation with Paul last week, he enthusiastically drew my attention to some of Frank Stella’s work that he had experienced within a collection in Belgium, beyond his pilgrimage to the U.S. I felt the Locomotive Breath on the back of my neck as the Baroque unwraps, its skin peeling for a stratum of more tangible connectivity. Yes Baroque and Abstraction are mutual licencees, indeed lovers, suspending boundaries, perforating frames, generating inconclusive slippage, but it is a dichotomous partnership, a dysfunctional but co-dependant romance of firm and flaccid the galvanised reductive and the hysterical spectacular.

Hang on, I haven’t spiralled completely out of control into the astral miasmic abyss, but re-entry is nigh. That conversation catapulted me immediately back to Paul’s 2009 survey show ‘ Home & Away – Reconstructing artifice” at the Carnegie Gallery,(a few seconds silence perhaps, for that galley’s demise) In an act of supreme generosity Paul allowed me to bring all my art classes to the space for him to deliver a very privileged series of floor talks. At that time I understood where his geometric gymnastics, his ornamental orifices, his Florentine facades, his Cornucopian Rococoesque Nouveauness had evolved from. It was indeed a huge dose of Zika.

But in Paul’s studio last Friday I saw in the new works that all pervasive, flat implied physicality of object, reflected so vehemently in Stella’s Irregular Polygons and Polish Synagogue series, from the 1960’s and 1970’s respectively . Reductive by comparison to his previous Bolivian Anamalic ornamental latticed labyrinths, Terme illuminates a further fragment of history by referencing the ambiguous Greco Roman border decorations within mosaics. Here we are bathed in open rather than complex space. It is a blinking budding geometry which while being far more linear, emerges as much less predictable while maintaining the horizontal, the vertical .and the isometric.

Paul tell us of his visual ironies, the pursuit of pictorial space that retains both the volatile and the seductive, one that both entices and overwhelms and one we are totally immersed in within the surrender.

Physically their geometry is molecularly irregular, the awkwardness perhaps is much like Rubik’s Cube roadkill. They are slightly clumsy, on the verge of collapsing like the sophisticatedly mangled architectural skin of a Frank Gehrey. Gehrey always makes me imagine what might happen if God just kept sitting on your designs. We visited one of Frank’s newbies just a couple of day’s ago, UTS’s Business School which locals have nicknamed ‘The Paper Bag Building’.

Once again Paul bolsters the paradoxical and disorienting uncertainty of depth in his hovering hallucinations. Indeed he exemplifies the notion that painting is alchemy – life from rudimentary paste. He has transformed the laws of optics by harnessing his reverberating shadows. Within mythology all entities which do not cast a shadow are phantoms. Baldinucci defined shadow in 1681 as “The darkness created by opaque bodies on the opposite side of the illuminated part.”

Are these paranormal portals to an alternative universe where shadow has become faux-neon or a celestial lustre? These are not static appliances, they vibrate, they speak, they live! If Saint Peter’s shadow healed a crippled man, what can Paul’s shadows do for humanity? Okay, let’s just settle down for the conclusion.

I found a quote from Ellsworth Kelly that I believe resonates with relevance for Paul –

"I have worked to free shape from its ground, and then to work the shape so that it has a definite relationship to the space around it; so that it has a clarity and a measure within itself of its parts (angles, curves, edges and mass); and so that, with colour and tonality, the shape finds its own space and always demands its freedom and separateness."

So Paul, I congratulate you on your show and thank you for the opportunity to speak on your behalf – long live that hybrid blur between sculpture and painting, long live scainting, or perhaps even pulpture!