After being exposed to the ideas of Georg von Békésy in his book Sensory Inhibition in the 1960s, Mr. Zaloudek’s studio practice has evolved over the last 40+ years from his interest in the phenomenology of seeing. His, “intention of making painting an exclusively physical-visual experience and moving more completely away from formal problem-solving and toward a self-conscious awareness of the physicality of seeing” has occupied a central position in his work since that time.
Zaloudek’s subtle, almost all white compositions, require long periods of concentrated looking before each composition reveals faint grey lines that imply space or architecture but are really an exercise in seeing. Using white gesso and watercolor pencils, Zaloudek takes months to complete each painting. He begins each composition with white gesso on linen layered and sanded to a smooth rock-like surface. Zaloudek then adds faint grey watercolor lines, sometimes only one, other times more, intuitively placed on the canvas. These lines are often so faint that in order to see them, the viewer must wait for the painting to expose itself over time. For the viewer, this intense encounter with carefully reduced stimuli is the vehicle Zaloudek uses to intensify an awareness of being and provides an opportunity for us to feel the process of seeing.
An awareness of time is inherent in Zaloudek’s work. His reductive compositions belie the extraordinary length of time it takes to create them…He only makes 3-5 paintings a year depending on their size. Zaloudek’s work offers us both resistance to and respite from the knee-jerk vapidity of social media and the antagonizing monotony of the 24-hour news cycle. Viewers are forced to spend an extended amount of time to see them. His paintings and drawings persistently resist being photographed accurately and are an anathema to our Insta-everything contemporary culture.
Duane Zaloudek was born in a boxcar in 1931 in Texhoma, Texas. His early childhood was spent on his grandparent’s farm near Enid, OK, and at age 13 his family moved to Oregon. He studied at The Portland Museum School of Art in Portland, OR and at the University of Washington, Seattle. His work has been exhibited in Europe and the United States, including the Helmhaus, Zürich and The Swiss National Archives, Bern among others. He received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mark Rothko Foundation, Art Matters and the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation Fellowship. He lives and maintains his studio in the East Village of Manhattan.