SAUL CHERNICK: A SKYWARD GESTURE
Saul Chernick’s current exhibition, A Skyward Gesture, at LaMontagne Gallery, consists of two bodies of work including a series of relief prints and another of ink and marker drawings with watercolor on paper. He uses medieval landscapes and images of saints, demons, and other mythical creatures to draw connections to our contemporary situation. Though his characters may be out of place as the prophets and other roles they might have represented in antiquity, they remain symbols of an older world, a place filled with magic and superstition. The all seeing eyes of God, the inevitability of death, the joys and sins of life, and the miracle of birth are all present here. We see giant floating eyes with wings and long beards over looking Bosch-like worlds, demons showcasing their genitalia and an old man with a peg leg serenading a camp fire alongside a cat and a skull. - Anthony Palocci Jr, Boston Contributor
Saul Chernick | A Skyward Gesture, 2012, archival marker & white crayon on paper, 15.5” x 13” Photo courtesy of LaMontagne Gallery
Saul Chernick | Monument I, 2012, archival marker & white crayon on paper, 15” x 15” Photo courtesy of LaMontagne Gallery
Chernick has also drawn three monuments, which appear on the paper as carved stone fitting tightly within the frame of the page. These three drawings highlight the significance of the horse and rider, the demon and two bearded eyeballs; figures found in his other works. These drawings themselves remain at a distance from our time period and keep their luster as images of the past; these three monuments almost solidifying that distance. With lines mimicking those of an engraving or etching, each form in the drawings is made up of an accumulation of marks. The direction, length and thickness of the mark explains the volume of the planes they describe.
Saul Chernick | Serenade, 2009, ink, watercolor and opaque white on paper, 19” x 14” Photo courtesy of LaMontagne Gallery
Saul Chernick | The Gathering Place, 2011, ink & watercolor on paper, 46” x 26” Photo courtesy of LaMontagne Gallery
Saul Chernick | Two Demons (after Bruegel), 2012, permanent marker & white crayon on paper, 15” x 16.5” Photo courtesy of LaMontagne Gallery
The way in which he relates his work to the contemporary world is through his prints. One cannot help but think of his prints, Book of Windows, Pangea and more explicitly, In the Clouds as relating to the immaterial place where all of our digital information is being stored, the Cloud. Our cultural resources are most quickly accessible through the internet and mobile devices to the point where one would literally be lost without it, and not be taken seriously if one does not yet have a phone or device with these capabilities. This is not unlike the way life revolved around the Church in Medieval times. Instead of praying to God we stare into tiny touch screens in the palms of our hands in a meditative like state, or sit in coffee shops poking buttons on our folding light boxes, communication to those who are not present and ignoring those who are.
Saul Chernick | Book of Windows, 2011, relief print on paper, 22” x 30” Edition of 14 Photo courtesy of LaMontagne Gallery
Saul Chernick | In The Clouds, 2011, relief print on paper, 13.75” x 10.75” Edition of 10 Photo courtesy of LaMontagne Gallery
Saul Chernick | Pangea, 2011, relief print on paper, 22” x 30” Edition of 14 Photo courtesy of LaMontagne Gallery
To that effect, Chernick combines the iconic structures of the familiar religious ornamentation with that of the computer screen. We see the signs of play, minimize and selection buttons yet where the information would show up there remains a black hole, perhaps suggesting the vastness of the internet and the depth of the cosmos and human consciousness. Chernick’s work connects the religious with the techno-secular, the spiritual with the virtual worlds, into what we now understand to be our reality.
Saul Chernick | Deamonette Birthing, 2011, permanent marker & white crayon on paper, 17” x 13” Photo courtesy of LaMontagne Gallery
Saul Chernick’s exhibition at LaMontagne Gallery is on view until March 9th, 2013
Saul Chernick has a BFA from RISD in 1997, attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2000 and received his MFA from Rutgers in 2001. He lives and works in New York, NY.
Anthony Palocci Jr. is an artist who lives and works in Boston, MA. He received his MFA from Pratt Institute in 2012. He has contributed writing to artcritical.com and New American Paintings.