The Rising by Bonnie Kozek, metallic pigment, pen & ink on paper
22 x 30
PARAGRAPH ABOUT BONNIE KOZEK:
An artist of multiple talents, the great theme at the heart of her practice the repossessing and representation of memory. Her paintings, rife with content.
The roots of her constructions reach much further back into arcane ideologies that have infiltrated—and been assimilated into--modern art’s more spiritually receptive realms. Kozek is intrigued by esoteric systems of numerical values. She cites Pythagoras’ belief in a universe governed by laws that could be understood through numbers, the numbers sacred. Her fascination with numerology appears in her paintings as letters and phrases, at times nearly micrographically rendered, coming into view only upon close scrutiny. These notations, often slightly raised and inviting touch, seem embossed onto the surface by mechanical means. But instead, they are painstakingly built up by hand, one by one, layer over layer of paint. It is a labor of obsessive devotion and long uninterrupted hours. The process acts as a kind of meditation, a ritual of entrancement, the repetition of gesture centering her, transporting her to other levels of consciousness; she hopes that in tracing her process visually, it will have a similar effect on her viewers.
All of the paintings begin with a full spectrum of color but gradually assume their distinctive final guise. Some are washed in gold, silver and other metallic paints to form lustrous monochromatic or duotone works. The colors sometimes seep through to the foreground to add subtlety of tone and an implication of spatiality, even if indeterminate in dimensions. Other works are parti-colored, and flashier. All are instruments of light, set into motion by their response to prevailing ambient conditions. The shifts in the work—the surfaces advancing, receding, brightening, dimming—are animating and correspond to the way memories unpredictably come and go: vividly present, then fading, teetering on the verge of oblivion, then resurgent, recouped.
She says that her paintings are essentially portraits, identities framed by text and numbers and color. They image memory and its flux and are the outlines, the remains of lived experience. More provocatively, she wants to “make memories,” even re-shape them. And why not? Since memories are subjective to begin with, elusive, misremembered, mutable, often as much fiction as fact. She wants them to “leave a scar on the psyche, in equal measure to that caused by pain." And she wants to will them into beauty, as emblems of both magical thinking and faith that has something to do with compassion, redemption, and greater truths.
Ms. Kozek is a recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Rockefeller Foundation.