Just above East Sixth Street and across from the Contemporary Arts Center, the intersecting chromatic lines of Julian Stanczak’s Additional (2007) are an iconic part of Fountain Square’s public artwork, even if it’s easy to assume the work is just an architect’s creative flair. So what is Additional, and who is the artist behind it? Stanczak was a Polish-born painter and printmaker who was one of the progenitors of Op-Art, a movement of the 1960’s focused on using light and color to create complex visual experiences that engage the eye. Stanczak has a direct connection to Ohio—he worked as painting faculty at both the University of Cincinnati and later the Cleveland Art Institute and lived in the state for 60 years, from 1957 until his death in 2017. The majority of Stanczak’s works were based on painting and printmaking, with this work being the only known sculpture/installation work done by him. His only other public work was done by painting directly onto a brick building and, as a result of issues with contractors, did not last particularly long before changes in weather caused it to dilapidate.
Julian Stanczak: The Light Inside at Diane Rosenstein Gallery. Exploring the artist’s intuitive use of color and geometric abstraction to create a sense of radiant light, this historic series of paintings resonates with the themes of the California Light And Space movement. According to the late artist, his minimal compositions are emotional landscapes that express his desire to transcend the surface containment of the painting as object and connect with the viewer through perception.
In the gallery’s third exhibition on the late Op Art innovator Julian Stanczak, Mitchell-Innes and Nash has honed in on 10 large-scale, multi-panel paintings that capture the artist’s proclivity for working in series. A rare approach among other standard-bearers of the movement, seriality reflects how Stanczak’s entrancing abstractions were grounded in observation of natural phenomena, such as the way light gradates from dawn to dusk or autumn shifts to spring. This connection takes the show’s sensual pleasures beyond the realm of good vibes and grounds them in something more knowable, tangible, and memorable.
The painter Julian Stanczak died earlier this year in his hometown of Cleveland Ohio, at the age of 88. Prior to his death, Mitchell-Innes and Nash in New York had been planning what would have been the second solo exhibition at the gallery of his work. That exhibition opened on 18 May, less than two months after Stanczak passed, and it has became more than just another show. It is a celebration of the work and the life of a truly beloved and influential artist.
I wanted Trespassing Light to appear effortless. I wanted to "hear" the red shout, and I am satisfied with the outcome.
Living together for almost fifty-five years, Julian and I—and later our children, too—experienced many memorable adventures; we crossed the country by car from one national park to the next, from one unique experience to another. As I took in nature’s formations and found myself enthralled by America’s geology, Julian was registering everything within his mind’s eye.
Mr. Stanczak’s art evinced a tremendous geometric inventiveness. He constantly elaborated on the possibilities of parallel stripes, both straight and undulant; squares, both checkerboard and concentric; and grids, usually amplified by contrasting saturated colors.