“Painting”, oil/linen, 60″ x 36″, 2013


shhh, flicker – Paintings by Boris Zakic

Review by Keith Waits

Entire contents are copyright © 2014, Keith Waits. All rights reserved

When given the opportunity to speak about his work, which he does with enthusiasm, the language Boris Zakic chooses is that of the academic, breaking down his process and techniques in terms you would expect from a respected Professor of Fine Art.  It is worthwhile insight yet seeing the man behind the curtain is not essential to viewing the work with appreciation.

In work now on exhibit at Galerie Hertz, Zakic makes the paint stroke itself his subject. On first look, the paintings appear to be surfaces broken up by bold, extended swipes of oil that one might imagine were executed quickly, the idea that you are encountering an intuitive statement with disdain for craft is an easy assumption, but entirely wrong. Lean in closer and you discover that the heavy impasto of trails of paint are actually intricately constructed tromp l’oeil pictures. The command and control of the medium is so breathtaking and, short of taking a microscope to them, the viewer never sees the actual brushstrokes; the artist’s hand nearly invisible while his mind reaches through the work with singular purpose. That purpose is  slightly obscured by cleverness and a sensibility entirely of the moment, so that a common reaction might be to get caught up in a pedestrian awe of the illusion.

“Candlelight”, oil /linen, 48″ x 36″, 2013

Yet the entire show almost demands such a reaction; forcing the viewer’s perspective into the fresh and unschooled attitude of a child discovering the wonder of looking at a painting for the very first time. In more than one instance, the end of a particular stroke registers as a blob of dried oil comprised of multiple colors, with dimensionality that forces an irresistible urge to dip your finger into the soft, sensual deposit of paint. Sometimes, the calculation is overwhelmed by a sense of play, as when a series of slashing strokes thrust across the linen surface with such random force as to feel as if the artist was cleaning his brush of excess paint (Impasto, 2010). Other times, the image of paint pulls back like a curtain so that oversize brush strokes frame openings revealing the image of a rough fabric surface that may or may not approximate the linen surface underneath.

Abstract and impressionist at the same time, the carefully rendered paint strokes serve as intellectual exploration of form and delicate recognition of function in the same instant. Yet even in the estimable skill observed in the manipulation of the medium, there is a supple visceral satisfaction in the rich visual textures of the paint.

The purity in these images venerate the mark of a paintbrush, and many of the paintings seem iconic and almost worshipful in their tone. It is reinforced by the one piece, “Flickering” (2013), that incorporates representational imagery of a chandelier in a space suggestive of the scale and structure of a church. The largely muted color palette also reminds you of the hushed ecclesiastical suggestion and reverence of the show’s title: shhh, flicker. If painting is a religion, Boris Zakic is most certainly a high priest.


shhh, flicker – Paintings by Boris Zakic

January 12– February 22, 2014 (extended from Feb. 15)

Tues-Fri, 11am-5pm, Sat, 11am-3pm

Galerie Hertz
1253 South Preston Street
Louisville, KY 40201