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Darryl Zudeck at Gallery Henoch

"Edward" 2001, oil on linen 18 x 16 in.

(Photos Courtesy Henoch Gallery)

January 2003

TWENTY-FIVE PAINTINGS, portraits and still lifes – all oils – comprise this latest exhibition of Darryl Zudeck’s work at Chelsea’s Gallery Henoch.* A cursory overview might prompt one to first pigeonhole Zudeck’s work as "Magic Realism" – but one would surely miss the fact that there is more "magic" here than "realism." To begin with no one actually "sees" either people or objects as does Zudeck – so we can quickly pass over any notion that he is attempting anything that might be termed "realism" when it comes to his work. People, objects, are here given an intensity of presence, imbued with such a sense of "thereness," that they appear to transcend our ordinary experience of phenomena. People and things stand forth in a Zudeck painting as if larger than life – almost as if by the power of his brush they are given more than life, more than existence. In this sense, his paintings work a kind of magic on the viewer, allowing for a keener vision into matter than we ordinarily have. A person’s face in a Zudeck painting stands forth stolidly in its everlasting immobility, looking perhaps like the person, but presenting a hyper-reality that we seldom – if ever – can know in reality. We see little of "character," can tell little of what these people are like – but we can have no doubt as to their being. It is as if the painter distrusts his own visual memory (we’ve all had the problem of reconstructing the face of a lost loved one) and, in capturing their likenesses in portraiture, can "magically" fix them forever in time and space. A similar legerdemain is practiced on objects – eggs, coffee containers, roller skates, marbles, radios, cameras – each thing portrayed seemingly given more "reality" than they actually possess. All are familiar objects – but have we ever seen

"Thermoses" 2002, oil on linen, 16 x 18 in

them as we do in a Zudeck painting? One suspects that there is more to Zudeck than a desire to enchant us with his flawless brushwork and discerning eye. His images hang in the mind long after they are seen. They nag at us to look more closely at the world around us. How many day-to-day objects, how many close friends, can we recall so vividly? For this viewer, there is, then, a potent message to come away with: Existence, being, is precious because it is ephemeral, because it can so easily be taken from us. There is a sanctity in things – whether they be human or not – and we ought not to not lose sight of that fact. Darryl Zudeck’s magic is that he makes us see.

*"Darryl Zudeck: Recent Paintings" (Nov 19-Dec 7): Gallery Henoch, 555 West 25th St., NYC (917) 305-0003.

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