< Back to History Menu   |  Main Menu  |  Site Map | Search  |  Contact

ROMAN VEROSTKO

Minneapolis 1968-1978, paintings & drawings


View of Diamond Lake from Roman's home studio in Minneapolis. 
Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes, provides an inspiring environment for artists. 

Transition & change.

By 1968 Roman's spiritual journey led him to  life outside the cloister.   No longer able to fully embrace the beliefs that bound him to the cloister he departed St Vincent n the summer of 1968 and joined  the humanities faculty at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He taught world art history, maintained an active studio, and did research on the role of  the artist in relation to changing social values and new technologies.   A Bush Fellowship Grant provided an opportunity to work with Gyorgy Kepes at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at MIT (1970). At that time the new information technologies were undergoing enormous growth. Roman was keenly interested in the artist's role in the humanization of these technologies. This interest drew him deeply into the information revolution that wrought immense change in world culture in the last quarter of the 20th Century. While still active with his algorithmic art well into the 20th Century he continued to experience himself as a 20th Century person continuing to wrestle with the spiritual interests that drew him into monastic life 50 years before the turn of the Century. Those interests also informed his painting and drawings of the 1970's.


Constructivist Eikons 1968 - c.1972

Eikon Series, #101,  1968-1970.
6" by 6", wood.
acrylic on gesso ground.

While completing a report for the MIT center  he continued a studio practice experimenting with color and structure. His first new work following his monastic period yielded a series of small icons created with carefully constructed color relationships. Crafted with a gesso base on small panels these works were designed as portable icons with slip cases so they could be carried by their owners in the manner of ancient devotional art. 

Eikon #104,  1968-1970.
6" by 6", wood.
acrylic on gesso ground.

Following  his  radical change of life style in 1968, these works represented  a quest for art objects that could lead to an interior experience that transcended  the material object. Although never exhibited at that time, these works  represented  one of several experimental directions that provided important ground work for his later work with coded algorithmic procedure. 

 

Eikon #103,  1968-1970.
6" by 6", wood.
acrylic on gesso ground..
Eikon #105,  1968-1970.
6" by 6", wood.
acrylic on gesso ground
#Eikon #106,  1968-1970.
6" by 6", wood.
acrylic on gesso ground.

Imaging the Unseen (from c. 1969 to c.1980)

While Roman had studied programming in 1970 and was involved with experimental electronics, he continued to be deeply engaged with his painting and drawing from 1968 to 1975.  His explorations grew  from an interest in  exploring new pathways in his spiritual journey. Playing with the power of human imagination he created a plethora of images that were hidden and largely unknown until 2008 when he resurrected them for a major project. He digitized selected images and composed them  with digital technologies for a two story  "Upsidedown Mural" in the Fred Rogers Center for Early Childhood Learning at  St. Vincent College. For the dedication of the new center he also created and Upsidedown Book.     

 Eikon # 203 1971.
24"' by 24"", wood.
acrylic on gesso ground.
(M.Fiterman Collection)
 Eikon # 205 1971.
24"' by 24"", wood.
acrylic on gesso ground.

These paintings and drawings represented an effort to bring forth images of the "unseen" from those segments and bits of visual stuff that lay hidden from our conscious self. The goal has always been to bring forth visual form in an art object that does not refer to "other" reality.   For these works Roman relied more on his earlier practice of  working with  unedited drawing that was semi-consciously  executed. The tension  between carefully thought out "line-making" decisions and the spontaneous flow of the pen or the expressive gesture of the brush played a central role here and later in his algorist work. These works attempted to create visual worlds that could stand on their own without reference to other reality.  Continuity with this quest may be seen in the Cyberflowers he achieved as an algorist over 30 years later. 

Eikons from the 1972 show Imaging the Unseen.

Untitled. 1972. Pen and ink drawing used for the invitation. Original size about 5" by 7"
  Statement from Verostko's  1972 show at the Westlake Gallery (Minneapolis):
 


Imaging the Unseen  a series of works shown in Minneapolis and also in London Ontario
See: Review by Don Morrison in the Star & Tribune, 1972. 

Artist's statement for the 1972 show at the Westlake Gallery (Minneapolis):

"Every human person bears within herself a jewel-like capacity - an imagination, a living spirit - which often lies dormant, unable to break through the busyness of everyday life. This human reality remains elusive because its peculiar mode of being transcends verbal and rational categories and we see its sparks come forth only occasionally.

These paintings and drawings emerge from interest in pictorial imagery that stimulates our awareness of and delight in the human imagination. The images contain no conscious symbolism. They are not charged with meanings. I have tried to achieve, in pictorial statement, the flow of "making up" an image and the delight of that human imagining which unfolds the image. In every instance I seek to evolve an image that would be simultaneously unlike anything seen before, yet surprisingly believable in terms of its own reality. I believe that such imagery provides "experience clues" about the nature of realities which are outside the scope of rational consciousness."

The Eikon Series 

The Greek word eikōn ( εἰκών  "image"), commonly  spelled "icon" in English,  has traditionally referred to the holy images associated with both ritual and private devotion in Eastern Christianity <*Note>.  These images were "sensible" forms through which the believer could be led to contemplate or participate in the sacred realities of her belief. The paintings in this show are titled Eikons not to suggest "holy" images, but rather that tradition of painting which strives to embody in some form of "sensible" image a reflection of realities that touch the human spirit but are outside our visible world.

"Untitled",  Limn Series 

The term limn is an archaic verb meaning "to represent in drawing or painting". Limn derives from the medieval English and French words for illuminate whose Latin root (inluminare) meant "to light up" or "to embellish". The illuminated manuscript of the middle ages was intended to "shed light" on the sacred word. The drawings in this show are titled Limns to suggest historical continuity with that aspect of medieval illumination that attempted to shed light on realities known to the spirit, but unseen.

In our complex 20th century life the treasures of the spirit within us tend to be encumbered with objects, things, and everyday business. To enter one's imagination, to play, to delight in the gift of the human spirit - these are "free" activities that break through that prison and nurture the human quality of life. Through these paintings and drawings I have attempted to enter that imagining mode in the life of the spirit and to evoke some of its treasures.

Roman J. Verostko, Minneapolis, November 1972

*Note on the term "icon" (eikōn):  In the traditions of Western Christianity the Greek term for image, "icon",  had  taken on a  very special, rather "holy" or "sacred" meaning.  As an art historian  I grew to hold a reverence for "Icons" that were understood to be  devotional images  that were venerated..  Up until about 1984  an "icon" elicited a special respect and reverence even though it was not always used for religious art.. When used in a "secular" way, as in the "iconic" hero, it had a special meaning reserved for an exemplar.    After 1984, with the commercialization of Graphical User Interfaces (GUI's) on computer screens,  the term  " icon" came to refer to the commonplace computer icon.  In the 1990's I struggled with accepting the term "icon" for these images. To call these small screen images "icons" was an uninformed usage that corrupted the term. We lose something when the traditions of earlier generations fade in our language. It is somewhat like the "extinction" of a species.  (This Note added ca. 2010)

 

 

< Back to History Menu   |  Main Menu  |  Site Map | Search  |  Contact