Roger Kizik at Dedee Shattuck Gallery

Westport, Ma. Through June 3

By: - May 09, 2012

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Roger Kizik Paintings
865 Main Road 
Westport, MA 02790
Dedee Shattuck Gallery
Through June 3, 2012

Roger Kizik's  works are immediately recognizable - regardless of medium, size or subject matter. He paints with surety, sense of humor, and imagination. Kizik began his education in the US Navy, before receiving his BFA at the Massachusetts College of Art in 1972.

A fascination with marine technologies along with a seafarer's sense of adventure is clearly palpable in his work. Kizik has shown notably at the ICA in Boston, the deCordova museum, New Bedford Art Museum, and the Fuller Museum of Art, along with many other museums and galleries across the country and internationally.

His current exhibition, showing at the Dedee Shattuck Gallery through June 3rd, includes over sixty of his works, dating from 1978 to 2012.

With thick cracked masses of acrylic paint swelling out of a welded steel frame, a massive book portrait of Alfred Barr's Matisse: his Art and his Public, painted on heavy wood panel, and paintings with canvas and paper cutouts, paintbrushes, a broken lobster pot, shells, and feathers affixed to their surfaces, Kizik’s works reside in a place in between sculpture and painting, figuration and abstraction, buoyant humor and reverent introspection.

Kizik’s brightly colored images boldly careen in and out of representation and abstraction, resulting in exuberant collisions of texture and form. Many of his works decontextualize objects- a Venetian water taxi, his favorite hockey stick, a tin of caviar- floating them in a field of abstract colors and textures. In doing so, Kizik gives the objects a relic like presence, highlighting form with his signature draftsmanship, as well as their personal significance, and allusions to history and pop culture.

The works often have double and triple meanings. In Da Nile, for example, a figurative carved Egyptian duck-head spoon floats along side a series of objects in a blue-green field of thinly applied fluid acrylic paint, presumably depicting the Nile River. The title alone is an obvious double entendre. At first glance, the painting appears to be a haphazard collection of litter floating along in a river- except for this ancient Egyptian woodcarving.

The Egyptian figure draws the viewer into the canvas- to give the rest of the objects a closer look. Ghost images of Horus and two solid feet positioned one slightly ahead of the other on a block (a common orientation in Egyptian sculpture) appear in the azure ground. The other objects, a pack of cigarettes, a beer bottle, a pencil, a hockey stick, and a flip-flop are not painted directly on the canvas, but rather cut out from a separate canvas and affixed to this one’s surface. The objects are not random. The bottle is a Bass Beer, a brand that touts its art-historical significance on its label, notably in Manet’s 1881-2 Le Bar des Folies Bergère. The cigarettes—Gauloises—have a winged Gallic helmet on the label, and weresupposedly Picasso’s preferred choice.

The 'ORIOLE' brand pencil recalls one of Kizik’s favorite birds, and ties in with the duck on the Egyptian spoon, as well as Horus’ head. The painting plays with ambiguity and transparency- the title and the allusion to denial of vices

and environmental responsibility may be evident, but the connection to ancient Egyptian history and Kizik’s own personal life remain further shrouded. Of the hockey stick and flip-flop, Kizik says, “that’s my hockey stick, and my own shower shoe.”

Even Kizik’s Abstraction sometimes contains hidden representation. Strand appears a purely abstract composition until Kizik reveals that the background pattern is meticulously copied from a Strand Bookstore tote bag.

The Dedee Shattuck Gallery Show also includes six of Kizik’s signature book portraits, all but one of which isolate the book- floating it on the wall without background or frame. Kizik explains that, in the tradition of many painters, he began this process by first including some of his own favorite books into scenic paintings. The books began to take over the compositions, until there was nothing else left. Roger’s portrayals of these books show a palpable sense of affection and imagination; images pop off the covers and pages, and the volumes’ wear from years of reading is featured.

Kizik paints on the floor, a process that puts him quite literally into the painting- carefully stepping through the canvas as it comes into focus. He is so much inside the work.

Walking into the Dedee Shattuck Gallery, with Kizik’s colors and imagery spilling

out over the walls, climbing up the stairs, and peeking down the hallways, feels like taking a walk through his imagination and sense of humor. Shattuck has curated the show beautifully, transforming the space of her elegant, Quaker inspired gallery, into a vibrant playground of boats, laughter, and asparagus.