CHRISTOPHER PEKOC: NIGHT VISIONS 1975 - 2000
CHRISTOPHER PEKOC | Night Visions | 1975-2000 presents 26 seminal works of art on canvas, paper and mixed media that form the foundation of Pekoc’s continuing exploration of “the Human Condition” – deconstructed, fragmented and resurrected in remarkable new forms. “Collage and photography [here seen in fragmentary magazine images] are the root of Pekoc’s entire artistic output,” said Tregoning. “These exhibited works provide a powerful key towards understanding the work he is admired for today.”
Night has always provided Pekoc refuge from daily distractions and a quiet, still environment within which to work. Night’s mysteries and ambiguities, its romance and danger, infuse the airbrushed acrylic paintings, the pastels, the prismacolor drawings and watercolors seen together here publically for the first time in decades. Many exhibited works have received critical acclaim and multiple exhibitions.
Christopher Pekoc in his own words
Why “NIGHT VISIONS” ?
“Simply stated: much of my work has been created at night.
My very first sizeable oil painting, produced when I was in my late teens, came out of an all-night stretch of intense creativity. It was that first rich night experience that introduced me to a fruitful, nocturnal work pattern that has endured to this day. Night – with its stillness, mystery and lack of distractions – provided me then and now with my most productive creative periods."
“A number of the titles I gave to works here bear witness to Night.
When I labored in the Cleveland steel mills during my mid 20s, I was awed by the visually spectacular displays of steam, sparks and red-hot ingots that glowed against the backdrop of the night sky."
“Those nights in the mills produced the inspiration for one of my most important artworks.
The Cleveland Public Library’s commissioned mural for Brett Hall, entitled Night Sky, Cleveland, is a natural fulcrum for this group of artworks – many of them seen in this exhibit for the first time in decades. The complex composition of Night Sky, Cleveland (viewed here in my original presentation to the competition jury, headed by Dr. Sherman E. Lee of the Cleveland Museum) is indebted to a number of the earlier paintings and pastels. Other compositions that followed drew their inspiration in turn from this mural. In one sense then, virtually all of these works (excluding the six stitched collages) are imbued with elements of Night Sky, Cleveland.”
Why Collage ?
"Collage forms the basis for all of the work exhibited here.
During the 70’s and 80’s I created hundreds of collages made from cut-out shapes found in magazines that acted as “sketches” for possible future paintings. The successful compositions were then enlarged and transferred with pencil onto canvas or paper. To complete the process, these line drawings were rendered with airbrushed acrylics or pastels. During this same time, I also produced a small number of colored pencil and watercolor works on paper. Without this experience of engaging in the collage technique and mastering it, my current stitched work could not
have evolved. "
“It has been said that Accident plays an important role in the creative process.
I have found this to be especially true. Since I began relying on the collage process, I find that many of my ideas flow from the unexpected visual surprises that occur when an accidental arrangement of shapes takes place."
“Collage is particularly “accident-prone” due to the fact that the individual shapes can be moved about so easily. This freedom of movement allows for a wide range of possibilities to be explored in a relatively short period of time. As the shapes are reconfigured it is inevitable that accidental combinations will occur. These “happy accidents” often yield richer results than my rational efforts. I have found this process to be very fruitful and as a result collage has remained at the root of my creative efforts all this time.”
Few Cleveland artists have a style as instantly recognizable as that of Christopher Pekoc, a longtime drawing instructor at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Arts Prize awardee.
Since the 1980s, Pekoc has been producing photo collages that often focus on human figures in attitudes of suffering or religious martyrdom. Made with fragments of photographic paper fastened with zigzag stitching, his works evoke scarred and sutured skin. Ropes, thorns and outstretched hands appear frequently. The effects -- exquisite and menacing -- were celebrated in a big 2007 retrospective at Convivium33 Gallery and in a recent documentary film on Pekoc's work made by Cleveland filmmaker Tom Ball.
Pekoc didn't arrive at his signature style overnight. An exhibition on view through Saturday, March 28, at Tregoning & Co. in Cleveland focuses primarily on the relatively little-known pastels and spray-gun paintings Pekoc created from the mid-1970s to the middle of the following decade.
The exhibition reveals Pekoc as an artist who developed in a series of personal breakthroughs followed by long periods of consolidation and refinement. The show also has two overarching themes. One is Pekoc's frequent evocation of night, his favorite time to work. The other big idea is that of collage. Pekoc made small studies for his earlier paintings and drawings by snipping up fragments of magazines and then arranging them to create composite images.
The exhibition includes a selection of mature collages made in the 1990s but skates quickly over Pekoc's transition to his mature style. Overall, the big retrospective at Convivium33 gave a clearer idea of the artist's complete development.
The show at Tregoning amplifies just how hard Pekoc worked to achieve the mature manner for which he is widely admired today.