george bartko: marks
November 3 - December 18, 2017
Imlay Gallery is pleased to present George Bartko: MARKS. The exhibition runs from November 4th through December 18th, 2017. These exquisite wash drawings using powdered tempera and water are a delight for the senses. Bartko completed the series of seventy drawings in 1989. Today the work looks as fresh and vibrant as if they were done yesterday. Each drawing is done in one gesture, without lifting the brush from the paper. His technical mastery of the medium is apparent in the tonal qualities that imbue these “humble objects most of us don't even look at,” with a palpable life-force.
A gifted teacher, Bartko kept a video from his teaching years wherein he shares the idea that he is “looking at what the object is doing, and re-enacting this perception through the medium of expression, the act of drawing (marks).” The action of mark-making becomes the equivalent of the object. With the actual objects in hand, he beautifully demonstrates a motion quality that has the “same kind of crispness, snap” as the object (a stalk of celery).
Bartko’s exploration of the “fundamental truth of the object,” is not about how to draw a stalk of celery, but a way of understanding representation in terms of the nature of a mark so that what you are doing and how you are doing it are the same. In tones of gray and translucent black Bartko takes the viewer much deeper than the appearance of things – he aims for something “alive,” something that you get the quality of - to “draw the fragrance.” The experience for the viewer is thrilling. In “Puffball” you feel the silence and maybe a breeze, as though if you blow on this one – it will scatter into the wind just like when you were a kid.