A master of post-painterly abstraction, Gary Komarin’s stalwart images have an epic quality that grip the viewer with the idea that he or she is looking at a contemporary description of something timeless. His style, a merger of painting and drawing, pays tribute to his mentor, Philip Guston. Komarin’s Cakes break the picture plane of his rich and elegantly composed color fields.
Born in New York City, the son of a Czech architect and Viennese writer, Gary Komarin absorbed the visual cacophony of sidewalks, brick, sandstone, gravel and the myriad qualities of rough surfaces that were alternately hard, hot, hazardous or cold to the touch–but nothing like grass. The juxtaposition of new and old asphalt patched here and there left indelible impressions. The artist remembers his mother baking cakes throughout his childhood, and doodling cake-like stacks of round discs in his classroom notebooks. Studying under Philip Guston at Boston University, he
was awarded a Graduate Teaching Fellowship. Like many artists of his generation, his work is deeply indebted to the New York School. Komarin has been particularly successful at filtering these influences throughout his own potent iconography.
Sometime in his mid-forties, he began to experiment with paintings on paper bags from the market. “I had long been intrigued by the way the bags are designed and the way they fold back into such a beautifully flat object after being so volumetric in their ‘open’ stance.” Painting on six paper bags in one synchronistic sweep, he starts with the top layer and works his way to the bottom, immediately hanging the final product on the wall for viewing. “The cake might drip, and often would in surprising ways uncontrolled by me… It occurred to me that the drips related both to cake making and to painting.
Gary Komarin has been honored with the Joan Mitchell Prize in Painting, the New York Foundation for the Arts Grant in Painting, the Edward Albee Foundation Fellowship in Painting, the Elizabeth Foundation Prize in Painting, and the Benjamin Altman Prize given by the National Academy of Design Museum, New York. Articles and reviews of Komarin’s images and paintings have appeared in Art in America, Architectural Digest, The New York Times, and Arts Magazine, among others. His work is included in countless public and private collections worldwide, and has exhibited extensively internationally alongside Philip Guston, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Robert Motherwell. Notable recent solo shows include the Denver Art Museum, The Musee Kiyoharu Shirabaka in Japan, and the Mougins Museum in France. The artist currently lives and works in the rural hills of Litchfield County, Connecticut.