Kathryn Markel Fine Arts is pleased to announce the fifth solo exhibition of painter Stephen Pentak titled, Vertical Landscapes. A colleague of Mr. Pentak’s once told him that his “paintings could be cut or divided and each section would be a painting.” Six of the new paintings, in which the vertical is emphasized, are excerpts from previous compositions; landscapes abstracted from landscapes wherein the elements are repositioned.
The title of the exhibition, Vertical Landscapes, is a subtle juxtaposition of meaning; landscapes are often horizontal and thought of as an assertion of the horizon, whereas figures stand upright and suggest verticality by contrast. The verbal play suits the painter’s work with these paintings to “explore the ideas of ‘repositioning’.” The shore line and the tree trunks, the latitude and the longitude, provide a loose grid superfluous to direction. The shoreline is a threshold slicing but not solving the ambiguity between hills and their reflection. The tree’s midsection, no top no bottom, stand at the fore, solid and fixed, providing only depth. The viewer moves left, right, in, and out to step between leaf and stroke, gesture and image. The rough structure of plumb and parallel, vertical vs. horizon, draw us to experience the relationships between color and brush. The ambiguities loosen us from the determinates of a landscape and bring us to the paint and the painter and the result, the painting.
Stephen Pentak is Professor Emeritus at Ohio State University where he was Professor and Associate Dean from 1983-2006. He is the recipient of numerous grants and awards including four Ohio Arts Council Fellowships; and is the co-author of Color Basics and Design Basics (fourth and fifth editions) published by Wadsworth. He exhibits extensively throughout the United States, from California to New York, and internationally including Canada and Israel. His work is in numerous public and private collections including The Columbus Museum of Art and The Wexner Center. Stephen Pentak currently lives and works in upstate New York.