The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2018

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JUNE 2018 Issue
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Duane Zaloudek

Duane Zaloudek, Nomad Song, 1993. Watercolor on JGreen watercolor paper in cherry wood box with unhinged lid on bronze table with bronze chair. Painting: 31 x 22 3/4 inches. Gallery Akire Ikeda, NYC.

New York City is the place where Duane used to dress like a cowboy. He had been one, back then, in Oklahoma. But he was a communist cowboy, which seems a little paradoxical. Anyway, these days just being communist seems a little paradoxical. I understand though, that in the late thirties a lot of farmers were actually “reds” and, for instance, Jackson Pollock's family was certainly “left,” but McCarthy took care of that. And even if there is still, in this country, a thinly diffused McCarthyism and an integrated Christian fundamentalism (at least in the Southwest) I don't know what he thinks today and I should ask him. As for myself, I would quote the Nobel Prize in Literature, “If my thought dreams could be seen / They probably put my head in a guillotine.” Duane also plays the guitar and sings (country, but he likes Morton Feldman). 

Besides the singing cowboy thing, Duane Zaloudek is a painter who paints white on white paintings. Unfortunately, I am also a painter. On the other hand, even if in the end I prefer a cleaner New York School, I don't mind works, like misstretched canvases, found objects or situations that challenge my own material. And this is precisely why I am interested in Duane Zaloudek's paintings. They challenge my own painting thoughts. I am more or less in the "what you see is what you see" school of painting and the thing about Duane's paintings is that you are never sure if that what you see is what you see. In a way they are very generous paintings because they let you do the “walking.” Even better than nine black squares or the relationship of a white material with its support or the wall, these watercolors on white gessoed canvases force you to look, to look carefully and as I said you're never sure that you are seeing what you are seeing. 

Duane’s works are also a challenge to a system which he knows well. He played tennis with Richard Bellamy and golf with Walter de Maria. He had shows in Rome and in Switzerland and without a couple of publications (Duane Zaloudek, Early Works, Gli Ori, Pistoia, Monitor Rome, Duane Zaloudek, Nomad Songs, Mark Mueller, Zurich) I would not have been able to say anything. But his work is difficult to a system which is basically about fame and profit.

What makes you a painter? Of course family, schools, and other circumstances make you who you are and sometimes going to museums, seeing paintings makes you paint. Then information, the news, other artists, or the practice itself make your art be what it becomes. Duane Zaloudek lost a scholarship because of that McCarthy thing, went to the Air Force, got a G.I. Bill, taught in Portland, did these early works and the rest.

I don't know too much about Sensory Inhibition or Tibetan Buddhism, but I am supposed to know something about reduced paintings (or paintings that look empty) and I like Cage, but Duane Zaloudek's paintings go beyond that; they are a challenge to the system. They are on its margins. This situation should please Choghakate and her project, I hope. Though, in the end it doesn't matter that much, as Mallarme said: 

Solitude, récif, étoile
A n'importe ce qui valut
Le blanc souci de notre toile

The thing is, Duane Zaloudek paintings were possible, which made them necessary.  Duane also did works on paper and even an installation with a table and a chair that should help “make others aware of the sensual and physical reward of vision.” “Perhaps that is enough,” he says. He also has done some cowboy's hats out of paper, but this is another story.


Olivier Mosset

Olivier Mosset is an artist. He lives in Tucson, Arizona.


The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2018

All Issues